Luxury Holidays in Dubai
September 27th, 2007
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June 5th, 2007
Regardless of your fancy, thee is lots to do in Dubai including enjoying the sun, shopping and sports coupled with a healthy dose of history for the more cultured. Just a few ideas to start you off include: Visit some Art Galleries Not quite the Tate or the Louvre but rather quainter galleries with displays of traditional Arabic artefacts are abundant and possibly more to your taste that grander European museums. A couple of galleries that I can recommend include the Ras al-Khaimah's Fine Art Association Centre dedicated to the works of young artists and the Art gallery of Dubai. Depending on your personal tastes, you may chose one of the many other galleries listed at this Dubai city guide. Go Camel Racing One of my most fun experiences was the Camel racing. I recommend this ancient sport . Camel races generally happen on Fridays or on national holidays, and are a unique opportunity to observe traditionally clad local people in harmony with their surroundings. Desert Safaris I highly recommend going on a desert safari. Safaris in Dubai are generally half day affairs and can include an overnight stay in one of the Bedouin tents which provides and a unique sample of traditional Duabi. Experiences will likely include, Wadi-Driving, i.e. exploring the wadis or dry beds of streams that flow after winter rains from the Hajar mountains, Dune driving which combines the excitement of a roller coaster ride with the challenge of remaining mobile on the shifting surface and is highly recommended for anyone who fancies themselves as a bit of a rally driver or adrenalin junky. While not my cup of tea due to weak knees, sand-skiing can be a lot of fun. As the label suggests, this involved skiing down the dunes of the Dubai desert which can be surprising high and steep. Bedouin Barbecues For food lovers who are not afraid to dine in places not visited by the Michelin organisation, it is worth joining the Bedouins for a traditional Arabic barbecue, beginning at sunset and enjoyed throughout the evening under the stars. Cooling Off in Dubai If it gets too hot for you you can always make a visit to the Galleria Ice Rink - The rink offers all the thrills and chills of ice skating, and professional ice skaters are available for private tuition. You can call: 971 4 209 6551 to make a reservation. The team will also take enquiries for cool kids' parties, which can be organized for a maximum of 15 children. .... more coming soon. AddThis Social Bookmark Button AddThis Feed Button
June 5th, 2007
Driving in the United Arab Emirates is an everyday adrenalin-rush... fearing for your life.

According to a survey report, the ratio of vehicles per person is 5.4 (compared to 2.1 in the UK and 1.3 in the USA) & fatalities in road accidents per 100,000 vehicles in the UAE are 10 times higher than in the UK, 6 times higher than in the US, and 4 times higher than in Qatar. Basically, lane-ettiquette doesn't exist: as soon as you indicate to change lanes, the person behind you will make sure to close the gap so you cannot 'get in his way'.

The worst time is still on Thursday afternoons and evenings, when many Arab & Expat youngsters fly into Dubai for a weekend of partying, racing their buddies on the way. They zig-zag inbetween cars on the highway at top-speeds. When you see them coming in your review mirror, it's best to just stay in your lane and keep the speed your driving at. Any attempt to get out of their way may prove fatal. With the increasing traffic conjestion in Dubai, we are now also experiencing our first cases of road rage.

You've also got the added problem of labourers/gardeners/delivery-boys cycling without any reflectors or lights on the wrong side of the road. Add to this many overloaded, speeding trucks loosing everything from cardboard boxes, to tomatoes, to wooden beams on the roads, to blown-out truck tires, it really turns into an obstacle course! If you can survive and drive well in Dubai, you can drive pretty much anywhere in the world!

The bottom line is, if you are hoping for a quite holiday, consider abonding the car and aranging alternative methods of transport.

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June 5th, 2007
One and Only have actually managed to create a pleasantly schizophrenic resort. By day it is a low-key, upmarket family friendly affair, but at night it turns into a very grown-up hotspot with seriously good restaurants and a clutch of sexy bars.

The Rooftop Lounge is open-air and scattered with lanterns and huge Moroccan cushions. With its wafts of incense and some very funky Buddha Bar sounds, it proved our favourite spot for pre and indeed post-dinner drinks, apart from one occasion – Hijri, the Islamic New Year’s Day, which meant there was no alcohol served publicly or entertainment, including music, for a full 24 hours.

This didn’t spoil our holiday one bit and simply proved a good opportunity to order room service and sit on our own very private and very large balcony and enjoy the silence and the twinkling lights beyond.

Its worth noting that Dubai, the second largest of the United Arab Emirates, is by its neighbours’ standards a very liberal Islamic state and the many Dubai residents who come to enjoy what the hotel has to offer in the evenings betray no signs of disapproval at the way western guests choose to relax.

The resort also scores well with its choice of restaurants, most of which manage to avoid that deadly hotel dining room atmosphere – over-lit unatmospheric carpeted carveries. We ate one of the best Indian meals we’ve ever had at a place called Nina’s, a magnificently designed restaurant that could easily give any of London’s fashionable eateries a run for their money.

At Eau Zone (yes I know the name’s duff but concentrate on the fabulous setting and the food) we sampled gulf shrimp and kobi beef from a theatrical teppanyaki grill.

Also worthy of note is a traditional Moroccan-influenced place called Tagine, and The Beachside Bar & Grill, where you must be sure to specify an outside table when you book.

Ah yes, booking ahead. It’s worth remembering that at busy times like half-term you’ll need to be organised and work out when you want to play tennis, where you want to eat and which treatments you want in the traditional hamam, or Turkish bath.

If you don’t, the whole family could end up grumpier than a toddler in Tuscany.

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June 5th, 2007
The Royal mirage, even with its one golden sculpture, is thankfully nothing like that.

Sitting within the confines of the Mirage complex and next door to The Palace is the smallest and most intriguing hotel on offer. The Residence & Spa sits back from the beach, nestling behind abundant foliage and almost hidden from view, A member of the prestigious Leading Small Hotels of the World group, it’s described as an ‘intimate sanctuary for those who wish to languish in comfort.

The Residence & Spa has suites and 32 ‘prestige’ rooms. Each has a sea view private balcony or garden. Unlike the rest of the resort, guests from the two other hotels aren’t allowed to come and use the facilities.

The Residence is much quieter and grown-up, with very few children. There are no set hours for dining, with a chef happy to prepare what ever you want whenever you want.

The interior is also spot-on - a sort of pared down, low-key opulence that whispers rather than screams ‘cash’.

The third and newest of the hotels at The Royal Mirage is The Arabian Court. With 162 rooms and ten suites, this is as small as big hotels get, managing to combine scale and choice with a degree of intimacy.

We stayed with the children in one of the suites. Although obviously more expensive, this gave us flexibility when it came to homework, bedtime stories and in-room dining (room service in old money). The rooms are big and plush with fantastic bathrooms and seriously comfortable beds.

In addition, the Royal Mirage has what all family friendly hotels have these days, a kids’ club. These are magic words that can offer exhausted parents some hope that a chapter of their novel may actually get read or a blissful massage won’t be just a distant dream.

At the Royal Mirage the kids’ club opens at 10.30am each day and offers everything from henna hand-painting to camel rides. It’s well organised, properly supervised and, what’s more, the children seemed really to enjoy it.

There are kids’ lunches and dinners too. The choices were freshly made, not last night’s adult leftovers and, yes, there was some kind of pasta on the menu every day.

Another Royal Mirage favourite with our little ones was the cookies-and-milk hour on offer each evening in the kids’ club at 8pm, cleverly timed to let Mummy blow-dry her holiday-frizzed hair in peace. Well done, whoever came up with that one. A baby-sitting service is also available.

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June 5th, 2007
You know the sort of thing – sitting for a couple of hours in the shade of a friendly tree reading a book, enjoying a silent stroll through an orange grove with nothing but your thoughts for company, drinking more rosé at lunchtime than is entirely sensible in 30 degrees of heat. You know, A HOLIDAY.

The arrival of children, yours or someone else’s, changes all that. Expectations of foraging through street markets or seeing master-pieces in out-of-the-way galleries are abandoned, replaced by the need to find rooms with interconnecting doors (you don’t expect a full night’s uninterrupted sleep do you?) and close proximity to things called waterparks.

Unless you assess your needs and those of your children carefully and honestly and work out how to please them as well as yourself, you are in for two weeks of expensive misery.

But prayers do get answered. This last trip ended with me a good deal less tired, grumpy and baggy-eyed than it started.

For the second year running my husband and I took three children, aged between three and ten, to Dubai.

We stayed at The Royal Mirage Resort, operated by the One & Only group. Among others, Sol Kerzner’s company also runs Le Touessrok and Le Saint Geran in Mauritius, Ocean club in the Bahamas and Palmilla in Mexico.

So, clearly, the group is used to fussy customers and can do luxury. Adding children to the mix is tricky. Not only do you have to keep the families happy but also an atmosphere has to be maintained that will allow guests without little darlings to enjoy their break largely unaffected by noise and messy dining rooms.

The Royal Mirage Resort offers three choices of hotel. The largest is The Palace with 25 rooms. In the entrance courtyard is a gleaming, golden sculpture depicting life-size Arabs in full majestic robes astride galloping camels. Blimey.

This is as flashy as it gets. One of my reservations before I went to Dubai was that the entire experience would be characterised by the sort over-the-top opulence that can make you feel queasy after ten minutes, never mind ten days.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s no shortage of places to stay if your tastes run to gold taps, pink-veined marble and synchronised dancing fountains. AddThis Social Bookmark Button AddThis Feed Button
May 31st, 2007
Qamardeen Hotel - Dubai Qamardeen Hotel - Dubai The Brand New Qamardeen Hotel, located in the heart of Dubai, is within reach of the Burj Dubai, the tallest tower in the world. Located approximatly 10km to the airport and 10km to the public beaches, this 4 star hotel is spread across 6 floors, and is in close proximity to the Souk, a traditional shopping arcade.

Standard Room. Price per person per night based on 2 people sharing. We found these hotel details on Unpackaged Holidays at prices from £96 per person per night based on 2 people sharing. [This may veary depending on the season]. Visit Unpackaged Holidays for more details If you have every stayed at this hotel or in the area, please share your experiences below. AddThis Social Bookmark Button AddThis Feed Button
May 31st, 2007
Al Manzil Hotel - Dubai Al Manzil Hotel - Dubai The Brand New Al Manzil Hotel, located in the heart of Dubai City presents a perfect fusion of old and new. The hotel is Located not far from the Burj Dubai, the tallest tower in the world, and approximatly 10km from the airport and 10km to the public beaches.

Standard Room. Price per person per night based on 2 people sharing. We found these hotel details on Unpackaged Holidays at prices from £96 per person per night based on 2 people sharing. [This may veary depending on the season]. Visit Unpackaged Holidays for more details If you have every stayed at this hotel or in the area, please share your experiences below. AddThis Social Bookmark Button AddThis Feed Button
May 31st, 2007
Al Shams Plaza Hotel - Dubai Al Shams Plaza Hotel - Dubai These hotel apartments are situated in the commercial centre of Dubai within easy reach of numerous shopping centres. There is a supermarket next door and various bars and restaurants about 5 minutes away.

One Bedroom. Price per person per night based on 2 people sharing. We found these hotel details on Unpackaged Holidays at prices from £45 per person per night based on 2 people sharing. [This may veary depending on the season]. Visit Unpackaged Holidays for more details If you have every stayed at this hotel or in the area, please share your experiences below. AddThis Social Bookmark Button AddThis Feed Button
May 31st, 2007
Metropolitan Palace Hotel - Dubai Metropolitan Palace Hotel - Dubai This stylish hotel is located in the heart of the business district of Dubai. There are restaurants within walking distance and a shopping centre opposite.

Standard Superior Room. Price per person per night based on 2 people sharing. We found these hotel details on Unpackaged Holidays at prices from £68.75 per person per night based on 2 people sharing. [This may veary depending on the season]. Visit Unpackaged Holidays for more details If you have every stayed at this hotel or in the area, please share your experiences below. AddThis Social Bookmark Button AddThis Feed Button

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