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

Friday - - News -

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 rotana­hote­landresorts/ unitedarabemirates/fu­jairah/

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