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.