You don’t have to jet off to enjoy the magic of Mexico or the cool chic of London – the emirates are full of fabulous hotels where you can feel a million miles away without even leaving the country
Stylish staycation ideas that’ll make you feel as if you’ve flown a million miles away without even leaving the country.
Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa
Feels like... Playa del Carmen, Mexico With its stunning seaside location, five-star facilities for all the family and relaxed holiday vibe, it’s no surprise that the Furjairah Rotana Resort and Spa has been called the ‘jewel of the UAE’, and compared to the Mexican Riviera.
Nestled between the Hajar mountains and the Gulf of Oman on a golden arch of beach, the Palazzo-style hotel is a luxury playground for national and international tourists who love to dive, play watersports or simply soak up the sun.
It’s supposed to be less than a twohour drive from Dubai – although it took us double that, mainly because we didn’t realise the hotel was not in Fujairah but at Al Aqah – and so is perfect for a weekend away as well as a longer stay. We arrived late, hot and
very bothered from getting lost but were quickly checked in and guided through the landscaped garden to Waves, the à la carte restaurant on the beach.
Gazing at the stars twinkling over the still water and sipping on a refreshing mocktail, our stress vanished. The temperature was in the high 40s outside but the only thing sizzling inside was my husband’s enormous steak. We were all ravenous and my children devoured plates of freshly cooked seafood while I ate spaghetti pomodoro and wished for guacamole, the place reminded me so much of Mexico.
Dinner over, we explored the hotel. Our room was quite basic compared to the opulence we’ve grown used to in Dubai but was very similar to a hotel we stayed at in Playa del Carmen. Like there, the Rotana also has cabanas overlooking the sea as well as a Padicertified diving course available. So up early the next day I booked myself an outdoor massage and our 10-year-old in for a mini diving course.
He’s been desperate to learn to dive since watching the videos of his dad diving among wrecks, sharks (yes, really) and off the coast of Mexico. So with me nervously pacing by the pool, he had a one-on-one lesson. He was a natural, and once I was confident he wouldn’t drown I went for my massage.
There’s nothing better than having your weary body kneaded and pummelled to the sound of the waves lapping the shore. The last time I had such a treat, I was in Playa del Carmen when my son had a chocolate massage in the next door cabana. He laughed because he’s so ticklish, then he tried to lick most of it off. Here, he was bigger and braver and, diving lesson over, ready for his next adventure with his daddy: parasailing.
My little girl and I watched from the beach, terrified at first, as they jumped onboard a boat and took it in turns to be hoisted into the air in a parachutestyle canopy. “Please be safe, please be safe,” I chanted over and over until they were back on the boat and headed to shore, grinning and slapping each other on the back.
It was time for us all to have some fun in the water now, so we jumped on board a banana boat and shrieked as we bumped and flew over the waves, clinging on, until the very end.
Exhausted, we decided to eat lunch at Sharkey’s, the beach bar, before cooling off in the main pool with its swim-up bar. Having fun can be exhausting so we decided to take a nap on the sunloungers while our two children checked out Flipper’s kids’ club. They declared it ‘fantastic’ and begged to go back the next day to see their newly made friends.
That night we decided to dine in Waves again as we liked it so much. This time my husband and the children feasted on lobster, while I asked the chef to make me more delicious pasta. Stuffed, we waddled off to our room and fell into one of those deep sleeps you only get on holiday.
Energised the next morning, we were a little more adventurous and played beach volleyball, then went for a scream-inducing ride across the waves on the doughnuts before the kids went for a final time to Flipper’s and we topped up our tans.
The weekend had flown by and it was time to head back to Dubai. We didn’t want to leave, but at least there was no airport check-in or long-haul flight. In under two hours – we didn’t get lost this time – we were home and totally relaxed from our down-Mexico-way-style break.
DETAILS: Rooms from Dh416. For reservations call 09 244 9888 or visit www.rotana.com/ rotanahotelandresorts/ unitedarabemirates/fujairah/