I was lucky enough to win a trip to Dubai & the surrounding Emirate’s.
I was amazed to find out that the UAE is made up of 7 separate states, Dubai being the main one.
My trip started with a seamless airport check in procedure, at the Emirates desk in Heathrow Terminal 3. There were no queues at all and I was allocated a row of three seats to myself as the flight was relatively empty. The A380 is simply stunning. Ample leg room in economy & excellent service. Business class & first class are second to none. First class has the added bonus of featuring the first sky borne shower room. Passengers can book a time slot to enjoy a mid-air freshen up!
Being a daytime flight, we arrived into Dubai early evening. This worked perfectly with the three hour time difference. I transferred to my first hotel, The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina. Just in time for a well-earned night cap!
The rooms at The Westin were very large indeed. Comprising a separate bathroom, lavatory, free standing shower room & walk in wardrobe. The main buffet dining room housed the best breakfast selection I have ever encountered. Every taste, diet & religion was catered for in abundance!
My first glimpse of Dubai by daylight, was as I was on my way to scale the “Burj Khalifa”. At over 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories, this is not for the faint hearted or those with vertigo! As with most things in UAE, they are trying to outdo the rest of the world when it comes to fast paced, highly stylised, modern civilisation. The bigger, the better is their mantra!
Carrying on, with Dubai on a grand scale, I arrived at “Atlantis The Palm” for lunch and an afternoon at the onsite water park. WOW, what an experience. Constructed around the iconic arch of Atlantis are over 1500 rooms, with a total of 23 restaurants, one of which is Michelin stared. This is the place where you can swim with dolphins, dive in The Lost Chambers Aquarium (home to 65,000 marine animals), zip wire along the Middle East’s longest zip line & entertain the children for days on end at Aquaventure water park.
Day three, was to be my first experience of “real” Emirati landscape. As I travelled out of the city, towards Ras Al Khaimah, the infra-structure & scenery changed dramatically. I was thrilled to see my first “caravan” of camels as I rolled through the ever changing desert.
I stopped for lunch at the beautiful desert resort, “Al Wadi”. Nestled amongst sand dunes, Al Wadi is a real escape from it all experience. It spans over 500 hectares of private nature reserve, with wildlife roaming freely. Tented pool villas make up the resort, emulating the style of Bedouin tribes in later years. Each residence is provided their own transport, by way of bicycle & golf cart. From here you can experience camel riding, star gazing (in a complete light pollution free zone)
horse riding, archery, there is even an onsite falconry centre. This resort really compliments the hustle & bustle of Dubai, as a twin centre combination.
My onward travels took me a further hour away from Dubai, which houses the main airport for international arrivals. I arrived in the Emirati state of Fujairah. With its spectacular back drop of Hajar Mountains & wonderful beaches, this is the place to come for a relaxing winter sun break. For the adventurous, you can off road through desert & wadi’s by day & sip cocktails underneath the stars by night.
I spent my penultimate night at the fabulous “Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort” All of the rooms at this property, feature a full floor to ceiling window, with panoramic sea view. The bathrooms in lead in rooms, come with tub & free standing shower with double vanity area, as standard! You can also upgrade to All Inclusive dine around. This entitles you to eat & drink in any of their speciality restaurants, at any time. This hotel is most excellent for multi-generational families, providing something for everyone & an excellent kids club to boot. The level of customer service provided by the staff at this hotel, was beyond doubt, exceptional.
My last night in UAE was spent at the soft opening of the brand new “Oberoi Al Zorah, Ajman”. This property is an architectural phenomenon. Industrial, sleek, slate boxing is teamed with floor to ceiling glass. My digs for the night, was a stunning two bedroom residence villa, with private infinity pool over-looking the beach. I had a butler on hand, should I require driving up to the main house for supper or drinks! This resort is very modern in design & minimalistic. It would be best suited to couples looking for privacy & tranquillity.
All in all, United Arab Emirates is the most fabulous, diverse, destination. If you are a culture vulture, I would head out of Dubai and visit one of the desert resorts. However, if you are looking for a cosmopolitan vibe, alongside a flavour of Arabia and can look beyond the abundance of building work, then, whether it be Creekside for the old town, Jumeirah beach, The Palm or Deira – Dubai has something special for you!!
Senior Travel Consultant