Dubai is a luxury destination, where the skies are seemingly always blue, the sea is warm and the hospitality second to none. This is all true, but what does it mean to the first time visitor to Dubai.
We travelled with BA from London Heathrow to Dubai International Airport – a travel time of just under 7 hours. The flight left London at 12.30 and arrived Dubai at 23.30 this is a great time to touchdown in a city that doesn’t sleep. Although 23.30 local time my body still believed it was 19.30 so I was still wide awake and ready to consume the experience, atmosphere and … whatever came my way.
The airport is all hustle and bustle, even at this time of night, but security was simple and with a stamp duly thumped into my passport I headed towards the exit.
Travelling Across the City
My first tip is to arrange a transfer. There are transfer drivers with traveller names displayed along the concourse, but we had no trouble finding our man even though he was towards the end. We used Alpha Tours, a Destinology favourite and they were brilliant.
At that time of night in October you are still overwhelmed by the heat and the chilled water presented to us for the 30minute drive was a welcome. We were relieved of our cases and shown our chariot and believe me we needed a chariot to weave across the city, through the still chaotic traffic to our destination. The city lights are magical. High rise buildings mark the way along the Sheikh Zayed Road from the airport all the way through the city past the Burj Khalifa and the fountains, past the luxury car showrooms, past the newly constructed buildings and beyond. We were staying at Madinat Jumeirah so we didn’t reach beyond there until later in the week.
I never new so much luxury could be enjoyed so simply!
Arriving at your chosen hotel or resort will not disappoint. The poerte-cochére, lobby and reception areas will not fail to take your breath away. External and internal fountains provide a soothing soundtrack to your arrival and within a moment, hotel porters open the doors, collect your luggage and accompany you to a reception where your greeting continues with a cool towel and a refreshing drink. Personally, I thought I had died and gone to heaven - chandeliers twinkled above me, luscious furnishings engulfed me and the smell! Every hotel I visited was filled to overflowing with fresh flowers.
At this point, I must also point out that the cars that adorned the exterior of the building also do not fail to WOW. Although not to my interest, my fellow travelling companions reeled off names like Bugatti, Lamborghini and Ferrari – Super Cars that for automobile lovers are a once in a lifetime encounter and photo opportunity.
And the Opulence Continues
Hotel and resort bedrooms in Dubai must be some of the most generous in the world. As a girl, my favourite fairytale was The Princess and The Pea – Dubai beds made my fairytale come alive, on more than one occasion I found myself climbing up into my king-size bed (and when I shared a room my queen bed) into crisp white, high cotton thread count, bed linen. In Dubai, as if by magic, they seem to know just how soft your pillow, how firm the mattress and how thick your duvet should be and provide perfection for a night’s sleep and the blackout blinds ensure it is prolonged for as long as possible.
Into the Night
Alas, I was not ready for sleep and, luckily for me, neither were my travelling companions. It is still early in Dubai and bars are still eager to welcome you. The temperatures are warm, even hot, in the evenings and well into the night. If I am honest drinks in Dubai can be expensive so to make up for the cost my second tip is to book Half-Board or a Club Room as they are worth the initial additional cost. Evenings are beautiful the city lights provide a Christmas like back drop and bars provide easy chairs and lazy sofas to relax right into whilst you sip your favourite drink and enjoy the music and company of friends.
At Sunrise A New Day Begins
Temperatures can be high – average temperatures in October are 30 degrees and in August reach 40 degrees plus. Tip three is, head for the beach early as the temperature is perfect to enjoy the sunshine. Early it is quiet and easy to find your pick of the sunbeds and umbrellas in the prime location. Once you have settled momentarily on your chosen sunbed, ‘as if by magic’ (it’s a theme) from nowhere a fluffy towel is laid over it. The beaches are man-made with gently sloping sand that leads to the Arabian Gulf which is warm and on the whole calm. The sands are the perfect colour and the sea a true turquoise, it seems even the beach has been created for the perfect enjoyment of Dubai’s luxury seeking visitors. If you don’t like the feel of sand between your toes, then the pools are surrounded by beds and are equally as warm as the ocean.
Breakfast Like Never Before!
After an early swim you deserve breakfast. Breakfast is an event and the buffet options I experienced in Dubai surpassed everything else I had tried across the world.
You are greeted at the restaurant door by a host who enquires upon your room number, shows you to your table and takes your tea or coffee order and from that moment on ‘as if by magic’ you will be referred to by name by your servers for the rest of your visit. You are then encouraged to peruse the multitude of stations to find something you love and that will satiate your dining desire.
Fresh fruit, yoghurts, cereals, croissants, eggs, meats, cheese, curries, sausages, bacon, beans and the list goes on and on. What makes this different is the yoghurts are served in beautiful glass jars and topped with fruit compote, the croissants are freshly baked and straight from the oven and the trays are replenished continually, the curries and accompaniments fresh and vibrant and my desired option, eggs are cooked however you like it from a live egg station. I like an omelette, soft in the middle and every morning they were neatly folded and cooked to my exacting standards.
At this point, as a Mum to a Coeliac who worries a lot on holiday, I want to let you know, if you have a food intolerance or an allergy just tell your host, they will have something amazing for you to taste and try. At Jumeirah they have a whole gluten free section – joy.
Days to Play or Just Relax
After breakfast, your day can be filled with your heart’s desire. If you want excitement you can sky-dive, hit the water parks or undertake a multitude of water sports; if you want to relax spa treatments and therapies include the most opulent of ingredients to restore your vitality; if you want to shop, the Malls are a source of pure decadence and if you want to just flop and drop head back to the beach or pool and be waited on hand and foot. Tip four has to be talk to your travel advisor before you go, they can suggest some activities, tours or visits for you to enjoy and consequently, ‘as if by magic’ a driver will appear to take you to your chosen destination and bring you home when the fun is over.
Unfortunately, my days were spent visiting hotels to ensure your visit is perfect, not a hard life, but I would have loved a few days poolside! (Don’t tell my boss!)
At the End of the Day - Freshen Up in Glorious Luxury
Tip five, make sure you watch the sunset. Wherever you are head outside as the sunset in Dubai is another quite magical moment. Colours melt gently into one another and romance abounds.
After a day at your leisure you will inevitably end up back at your hotel room to make yourself beautiful for the evening that beckons. This is my time to tell you how amazing the bathrooms are in Dubai. A bathroom is not just a bathroom in the hotels in Dubai they are luxurious, opulent and incredibly spacious. We saw a variety of bathrooms, obviously, but where we stayed, in hotels our clients love you can expect his n her’s vanity sinks, freestanding tubs, rain showers with seating areas and fitted wardrobes with designated dressing table areas. Luxury cotton bathrobes, slippers and toiletries make the experience extra special. I loved the bathroom at Jumeirah Al Naseem and the one at One & Only Royal Mirage Arabian Court you should visit to see if you agree that these are particularly gorgeous.
Time for Dinner
I was overwhelmed by the choice for dinner. You can find every type of cuisine in Dubai. I love seafood, my colleague Jane is vegetarian and as for Adam he loves steak – we all found some of the most delicious food we have ever tasted. Celebrity and Michelin Star Chefs have restaurants across the city: Gordon Ramsay has Bread Kitchen at Atlantis The Palm, Alain Ducasse has Mix Dubai at Emerald Palace Kempinski and Heinz Beck’s Social is at the Waldorf Astoria. Dubai attracts the finest chefs, sources the tastiest produce and delivers in rooftop, over water and garden venues - you must find time for dinner. Restaurants want to wow, they want to demonstrate their ability to produce the best in town - the competition is hot.
For my travelling friends, who made my visit to Dubai as magical as it could possibly be and who know my eye for detail.
Tip Six make sure you take every tiny bit of your surroundings in, even the corridors can be incredible. Architraves, skirtings, covings, lights, carpets, doors, windows and views they all contribute to the total opulent and luxurious experience of Dubai. My favourite corridor journey, after dinner one night, was through a lobby and corridor where tiny tealights adorned the columns and doorways and created a truly magical palatial and historic journey home: beautiful.
My Advice to You...
Go to Dubai. You will find a holiday magically removed from real life where luxury is available for everyone, no matter your level of budget, the skies really are blue every day and the sea is warm, the food is delicious and often decadent and the people ‘as if by magic’ make your holiday dreams come true.
Telephone my travelling companions Claire, Alex and Adam who are experts on Dubai and who will guide you to your perfect hotel and your adventurous tours.
So I ask… is there room in your suitcase for me?