How to beat the ’lag in the UAE. By ELIZA O’HARE
THERE ARE STOPOVERS, and then there is a total stop. If your plan is to travel long distance at high speed but you want to minimise jet lag and you have a spare night, a one-night full-stop could be the element of your holiday you appreciate most when you get home. Although not exactly halfway between Europe and Australia, Dubai is perfect if you’re on an anti-jet-lag mission. The key to winning at jet lag is to pick a great hotel and relax into it. Fresh from a wedding in Ireland and two weeks of travelling, we now need to get back onto the right time zone, pronto. We pick Raffles, picturing palm fans and colonial architecture, but Raffles Dubai turns out to be a modern pyramid surrounded by super malls, in the city section of Dubai close to the airport. In just 20 minutes we’re off the plane and in the dramatic lobby — stone pillars bearing carved reliefs of Egyptian goddesses, a floor-to-ceiling water feature and an army of staff determined to make you relax, goddammit. Being whisked up to the 10th floor Club Lounge for check-in over coffee,fresh juice and pastries is a great way to start the 24-hour decompression.the lounge is a bonus for travellers in Club rooms and suites, with access to a business centre, newspapers, and serving breakfast, afternoon tea and cocktails and canapés before dinner. The rooms here are big, starting at 70 square metres.that means big beds, big baths and a lovely big sofa next to a big balcony overlooking the city — but with it pushing 40 degrees Celcius by 9am, that’s not where we’ll be lounging. Everybody knows that jumping into water is the best thing for jet lag (activity plus hydration!), so the pool is the place to start. Pick a full-shade cabana and by the time you’ve slipped out of the water and laid back out on your sun bed, your bikini will be dry and Mody from the pool bar will be delivering the first instalment of your water-bottle hydration program, with his signature plate of fresh-cut fruit. The trick is to keep moving, and while the heat here is formidable — it can reach 50 degrees in summer — a trip tothe Dubai Mall makes for a well-air-conditioned plan, where we manage to hit our daily steps and also take advantage of friendly prices at Chanel and a surprise sale at La Perla. This keeps the ball rolling until we catch the water show at The Dubai Fountain. Another option is Wafi Mall, actually attached to Raffles Hotel, which leads into its own souk — air-conditioned, no less! Dubai is all about food — and overwhelmed as we are with options, it is comforting when we hit that mid-afternoon ’lag zone to contemplate our fatigue over Raffles’ floral high tea. A selection of canapés and pots of rose tea gives us a lazy hour or so to plan where to head for dinner. But a stopover is also about stopping — and after high tea there is no need for dinner.we are happy to retire, with a plan to edge closer to EST with an early night and an early start. Our strategy is to hit the ground running, spending the day between the treadmill, the pool and the steam room. But maybe the best strategy is to work in a massage.the spa at Raffles is in high demand for its speciality treatments, including the aromatic couples’ massage — a symphony of synched movements that iron out the kinks and prep us for the flight. The super-late checkout of 4pm means we are able to head straight from poolside to the airport lounge — just a 10-minute drive away — cleansed, calm and ready to fly. It’s all so easy — which is why we vow to include Dubai on our stopover itinerary for our next trip … Marrakech!
From top: Raffles Dubai’s Turkish-style Penthouse Suite; Royal Suite; and lobby.