Considered using the membership programme Privilee for beach club access in Dubai? Or simply keen to find out about the different beach clubs on offer? (There’s a lot!). Either way, hopefully this guide should help you with your decisions..
What’s the story?
We’ve looked at Privilee, the Dubai and more recently Abu Dhabi based beach and gym club membership option, since arriving in Dubai. With dreams of weekends spent by exotic pools and beaches it seemed like the perfect option as it gives you access to a wide range of luxury beach and poolside venues and hotels.
We struggled to justify the cost though, because we were still unsure just how often we would use it, but a birthday proved to be the perfect excuse to go for it. Especially if it’s a big birthday (oh yes, the big 30) so my husband, Josh, very kindly treated us to membership as a surprise (thanks Josh).
What is Privilee?
As mentioned above, Privilee is a membership scheme that gives you access to a selection of the best beach clubs and gyms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. There’s accompanying discount on the spas at these venues, free access to the gyms, and discount on other leisure facilities such as squash, tennis courts and water sports. Privilee membership also offers discounts at a wide range of restaurants too. Membership packages include individual and family options and typically run for a year (although you can decide whether to pay monthly or annually). You can also acquire weekly guest passes for an additional charge for visitors but these passes can only be used on weekdays (more on this below).
How much is Privilee?
You’d need to check for the latest prices but assume close to AED 500 per person (around £100). This might sound a bit steep (it’s definitely not cheap!), but when you consider the cost of access to these beach clubs and hotels then it sort of becomes justified (in an ‘only in Dubai’ way). For instance if you turned up to use the Kempinski hotel facilities on the Palm it would set you back AED 500 for the day per person!! (Note though that it’s always worth looking on sites such as Groupon if you don’t have Privilee but fancy a pool day to get a substantially cheaper rate than advertised by the hotel).
Providing you use Privilee at least twice per month then you should definitely make your money back (and that’s without considering the wider discounts it has on offer).
Can I take friends with me?
Although membership is per person (as mentioned you can also purchase family membership if you have kids), there are also discounts available for guests. You can acquire a weekly guest pass for an additional charge for visitors (around AED 250). However these passes can only be used on weekdays so aren’t valid on weekends. These also need to be arranged in advance through Privilee. There’s also discounts offered for guests on the price of entry (usually around 20% off), that can be applied on the day for most of the venues (check in advance though).
Where can I use Privilee?
Here’s a list of hotels where you can use your Privilee membership in Dubai:
Privilee list of hotels:
- Habtoor Grand, Dubai Marina
- The Address, Dubai Marina
- The Westin and Le Meridien, Mina Seyahi (near Dubai Marina)
- Double Tree Hilton, JBR
- Sheraton, JBR
- Fairmont, The Palm
- Riva, The Palm
- Kempinski, The Palm
- Waldorf Astoria, The Palm
- Sofitel, The Palm
- Rixos, The Palm
- Palace Hotel, Downtown
- Polo Club Dubai, Arabian Ranches
- Shangri La, Downtown (no longer active from the 28th February 2018)
- Conrad, World Trade Centre
- Hyatt Regency, Healthcare City
- Le Meridien, Garhoud
To be added for 2018 (dates to be confirmed):
- The Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City – available now!
- Fairmont Dubai (near World Trade Centre) – coming soon!
So there’s quite a lot of choice!
In Abu Dhabi there’s slightly fewer hotels to pick from, but there’s still a good selection. Currently the hotels you can use Privilee at include:
- Saadiyat Beach Club
- St. Regis, Saadiyat Island
- St. Regis, Corniche
- Ritz Carlton
- Le Meridien, Electra Street
- Fairmont, Bab Al Bahr
It’s worth noting that all clubs have different limits on how many Privilee members can visit in one day. For instance, the bigger resorts (such as The Westin) have over 150 spaces, whereas smaller places such as the Conrad are limited to 10 due to the size of the hotel and facilities. Whichever you pick I’d head early or later on in the afternoon. We’ve never had a problem to date but hotels can get full so bear this in mind.
Some of our favourites are the ones closest to the Marina where we live so we might be a bit biased towards them but we can definitely recommend. Controversially one of them doesn’t even have a beach, but the infinity pool and Marina views at the Address Dubai Marina makes up for that. It’s also a great location for drinks of an evening if you’re looking to impress guests. Other favourites include the huge resort of The Westin/Le Meridien Mina Seyani which has both beach and a range of pools to choose from.
If you want to venture a bit further then the Fairmont (see this post for the full review) and the Waldorf Astoria (see this post for all the details), both situated on the Palm are definitely worth a visit.
Where to miss…
This is tricky as all are nice and it’s really down to preference, but for me I’d probably skip the Kempinski on the Palm. It’s good but I really think the Fairmont and Waldorf Astoria offer more in terms of beach clubs (I also can’t get away from the AED 500 price tag the Kempinski has for daily guests!).
The other ones that I’d probably skip are the Habtoor Grand and the Sheraton JBR. Again, both are great, but when there’s all the other options I’d pick the Double Tree Hilton next door over the Sheraton and The Westin nearby over Habtoor Grand. (Although do go to the Sheraton for food and drinks as Privilee gets you 50% off and I can definitely recommend the Bliss Beach Bar for drinks, as well as The Peacock for a great Chinese!)
Also we haven’t ventured to all of the clubs yet so can’t comment on every single one. The only one we have visited a bit further a field is the Hyatt Regency in Healthcare City. Again it’s got a nice pool area but it’s pretty small and unless you are in this area I wouldn’t travel out of your way to go there.
A quick word on Abu Dhabi…
Although we are based in Dubai, we did use Privilee during a trip to Abu Dhabi and can definitely recommend the Saadiyat Beach Club there! (full review coming soon.)
We were probably less impressed with the Ritz Carlton in Abu Dhabi unfortunately. The picture on Privilee’s website looks incredible for this hotel, but the beach and pool area don’t really live up to expectations. They weren’t particularly wow when compared to other options and it was very busy. Although it should be said that the staff certainly made up for this and were excellent. They even showed us to the residents pool area which was a bit of an oasis compared the busy main pool so the service was definitely a big plus at this resort.
The Guestbook’s comment: “Privilee isn’t cheap but if you are a fan of beach clubs and use Privilee regularly then it’s definitely worth considering. It can work out much better value than paying individually per club too. It also has a wide range of options across Dubai (and Abu Dhabi). To maximise value, try to make use of the gym access and discounts on food and beverages that are on offer.”