#3 DUBAI

Expat Living (Singapore) - - Travel -

Dubai ap­peals to fam­ily hol­i­day-mak­ers want­ing the guar­an­tee of good weather, thrill- seek­ers af­ter sports and mo­tor rac­ing events, and those who are keen to shop. And, come on, who of you doesn’t think of the Sex & the City movie and want to grab a kaf­tan and a cos­mopoli­tan, and dash out the door for a girls-only trip? For us, it made the ideal des­ti­na­tion for four days of fast-paced fun – at times a lit­tle over the top! (Fire­works at­tached to a cham­pagne mag­num and lan­gous­tine “french fries” come to mind…).

Stay: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

A stay at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on Palm Is­land is a serene in­dul­gence, and its Talise Ot­toman Spa wins a slew of awards, year af­ter year, from the likes of the World Travel Awards and Condé Nast. The fa­cil­i­ties are as­tound­ing, par­tic­u­larly the in­door pools, the ex­quis­ite Turk­ish ham­mams with spec­tac­u­larly dec­o­rated booths and cush­ions sur­round­ing a pool, and the ceil­ing lit up with fairy-like stars. There’s even a snow room!

I’d visit Dubai just for this spa, and would cer­tainly choose to stay again at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. The lobby alone made us feel quite grand from the mo­ment we checked in, af­ter our 45-minute drive from Dubai’s air­port. Hand-painted ceil­ings and mu­rals, crafted mar­ble and crys­tal chan­de­liers lav­ishly adorn the ho­tel. Our room was spa­cious and dec­o­rated in tra­di­tional Ot­toman style. All 405 suites and rooms of­fer ocean views, and the re­sort has beach ac­cess and its own jetty for shut­tle boat trans­fer to and from the Dubai Ma­rina. We girls sipped cock­tails and sunned our­selves on the beach be­fore head­ing into the “bright lights” of Dubai.

The Jume­riah group has many re­sorts, each with their own ap­peal. Jumeirah Beach Ho­tel is the flag­ship, over­look­ing the Burj Al Arab. It’s a fam­ily-friendly prop­erty, and in­cludes the pop­u­lar Wild Wadi Wa­ter­park. Jumeirah Mad­i­nat is set on wa­ter­ways and boasts easy ac­cess to the souk.

Be sure to visit Dubai on a Fri­day so you can sam­ple the big­gest brunch spread I’ve ever seen. The Westin’s Bub­ba­li­cious Brunch is an all- af­ter­noon af­fair. If you can, get a ta­ble out­side where the sun shines brightly on the im­pres­sive colon­nades, and where wa­ter­mel­ons filled with vodka abound. Nine-inch heels have noth­ing on the way peo­ple dress up in Dubai! Af­ter the brunch, we were told to just “fol­low the crowd”, and we found our­selves at 4pm in a 1980s-style club up­stairs in the ho­tel, where to our de­light, no one looked un­der 35! The room was full of peo­ple hav­ing a great time in this exuberant city.

The to-do list here is end­less, but a sun­set rooftop din­ner at Bab al Shams in the nearby desert, and drinks at Barista beach bar were two of the things we en­joyed most. And, of course, a night-time visit to see the foun­tains and lights on the Burj Kal­ifa tow­er­ing into the night sky.

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