Is anyone else currently spending all of their time planning this years travel? I do find early Jan a little bit depressing. The fun and holidays of Christmas & New year are over, it’s months until there’s even a sniff of a public holiday and most of us are skint after over spending on presents for our loved ones. It’s always a bit of a ‘meh’ time of the year, even if here in Dubai we are luckier than a lot of the northern hemisphere and we don’t have bad weather to contend with as well.
I find the only way to cope with this seasonal depression is to constantly research and then hopefully book a holiday. (Funny, that’s how I cope with the Dubai summers, I’m sensing a theme here) If you’re thinking of treating yourself to a luxury weekend break or you just want to check out some travel porn (it’s definitely the best kind of porn) these are my top 5 places
Al Maha is hands down one of the best desert hotels I’ve ever stayed at. The all private villa resort is no more than an hour from most areas of Dubai and is located in the Dubai Desert Conversation Reserve. It is one of the only a few places you can view the Arabian Oryx freely roaming in it’s natural habitat along with with gazelles and other indigenous Arabian wildlife. Each villa comes with a very generously sized private pool, a huge bed and spacious living area as well as an easel, for those times when drawing or painting just take your fancy. Included in each night’s accommodation is the choice of two of the resorts wide range of activities. We chose the sunset drinks over the desert and the dune bashing when we went but you can choose anything from a wildlife drive to horse riding to a desert safari.
We also opted for the private dune dining and it was an experience like no other. Your personal ranger takes you out into the desert where dinner has already been set up for you and then leaves you alone with your dining companion and the stars. Pure bliss.
Banyan Tree Al Wadi
There are two Banyan Tree resorts in Ras Al Kaimah, Banyan Tree Al Wadi and Banyan Tree Ras Al Kaimah Beach. We stayed at Banyan Tree Al Wadi which is located in the desert and from a straw poll amongst friends and colleagues I think this is the better one of the two. The Tented villas are the ones to book.
Whilst they are more pricey they’re absolutely stunning, in true Banyan Style they are enormous and have lots of outdoor space. The Thai restaurant, Safran, is good as was the rooftop Moon Bar.
St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort
St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort just pipped Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi to the post when it came to choosing the best hotel on Saadiayt. The service here is excellent and the beach is amazing, soft white powder sand meeting an azure blue sea.
Even better, it’s close enough to the Capital to combine a night’s stay here with dinner at one of Abu Dhabi’s best restaurants.
Qasr Al Sarab
If you’re after a real getaway from the city Qasr Al Sarab is the place to head to. 3 hours from Dubai, 2 from Abu Dhabi it’s a proper weekend away but it’s absolutely worth the drive. It boasts some of the most incredible desert dunes I’ve ever seen and there’s a great big one next to the hotel that allows an easy climb to see a gorgeous sunset over the desert.
With a beautiful free form pool and 4 restaurants you can easily spend a long weekend here and feel a million miles away from home.
Six Senses Zighy Bay
Whilst Six Senses Zighy Bay is located on the Mussandam Peninsula in the neighbouring country of Oman it’s still only approx. a 2 hour drive away making it very accessible for a weekend visit. This was one of the first luxury hotels in the region that I stayed at and it made a lasting impression. It’s a gorgeous resort and so sympathetically constructed in harmony with the surrounding landscape that when viewed from a Dhow on the sea it almost disappears. Each villa has a very private outdoor area and plunge pool making it the ultimate couples getaway. The food is fabulous and if you can bear to leave your villa the spa is what you’d expect from Six Senses.
Make sure you book at table at Sense on the Edge, the stunning restaurant at the top of the cliff overlooking the resort. Oh and if you’re not scared of heights, book the arrival by paragliding, it’s worth it.
These were all on my bucket list and now I’ve finally crossed them all off after being here for 6 years. I’m looking for more inspiration for our next break so if anyone has any suggestions please do let me know!