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A Double Dose Of Arabian Culture

Melissa Strayton, a travel consultant at our Colchester travel agents, attended a conference in Dubai and took the chance to explore the city and nearby Abu Dhabi. Here are the highlights of her trip…

Destination: Abu Dhabi/ Dubai
Operator/Host: Kuoni
Accommodation (Hotel names/Ship name): Traders Hotel Abu Dhabi, Ocean View, Jebel Ali Palm Tree Court
Airline: Emirates
Duration: 6 Nights

Flights

Both flights were on the A380 in economy class. The seating plan in economy is 3-4-3 with a seat pitch of 32″ and I found the flights very comfortable with a good selection of movies and entertainment. The staff were very attentive and there was a constant flow of drinks and food throughout each journey. We had a choice of meals on the flight; between chicken and lamb on the outbound and fish or chicken on the inbound. The food was nice both ways.

Accommodation

Traders – Deluxe Room 2 nights

The Traders is a contemporary hotel which is more suited for business clients with free Wi-Fi throughout the complex. The facilities are very basic with only one bar and one restaurant. There is only one deluxe room with a balcony and you cannot pre-book this, it is down to luck as to whether you receive it on arrival. There are a few interconnecting rooms which is great for families with older children that are just wanting to stay in Abu Dhabi for a couple of nights. There is a mix of smoking and non-smoking rooms; again you cannot pre-book one or the other so a request would need to be sent through to the hotel.

JA Ocean View- Club Sea View Room 3 nights

The Ocean View was a modern property, with five restaurants and bars. The majority of the rooms have a sea view (the few that don’t are not normally sold). We were upgraded to a club sea view room on arrival, so we had the privilege of using the executive lounge on the 24th floor and we all had a view overlooking The Palm. The hotel offers 153 interconnecting rooms so is ideal for larger families. It is in a perfect location for exploring Dubai; it stands along The Walk at Jumeirah Beach and is only a short trip away from the marina & beach. We only had lunch at the Ocean View once during our stay. This was in the buffet restaurant and there was a good selection of food and a cooking station for pasta dishes.

Jebel Ali Palm Tree- Junior Suite Court 1 night

We all loved this hotel and wished we could have stayed longer. The Palm Tree Court is the 5-star complex with the 4-star Jebel Ali Beach Hotel next door. Facilities of both hotels include four swimming pools, a kids’ club, teens’ club, crèche, camel rides, tennis, squash, badminton, 15 restaurants and bars, a selection of shops, a spa, 9-hole golf course, golf academy, clay pigeon shooting, horse-riding, water sports and diving. We were all treated to a spa treatment while we were here; the spa was lovely and the staff were so welcoming. After our treatment, we were taken to unwind in the ladies Majilisor relaxation lounge, where complimentary herbal teas, fruit juices and fresh fruit were served. The ladies Majilisor relaxation lounge overlooks the beach and was a really nice finishing touch.

The rooms at the Palm Tree Court are very spacious and feature floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto a balcony or patio. The rooms at the Beach Hotel were much smaller with a tiny balcony.  This hotel is so unique in Dubai, it is surrounded by greenery, has a beautiful beach and there is also 200 Peacocks that stroll around the grounds. You can stay here either on a bed & breakfast, half board or all inclusive basis, again making the hotel really unique in Dubai. We had a Thai meal here and the food was lovely; we all said it was one of the best meals we had on the trip. I would always recommend travellers upgrading to the Palm Tree Court; the rooms are beautiful and the complex has a more relaxing and tranquil feel. You almost forget that you are in Dubai.

Excursions

Abu Dhabi City Tour

 Grand Mosque

We only had one day in Abu Dhabi which was spent on a city tour. Mike, our guide, was fantastic; he was very knowledgeable and made the trip interesting. We got to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi Emirates Palace and the F1 track. We only saw the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque from the outside as we were not dressed appropriately. It is beautiful though so I imagine the inside would be just as nice. We also went to Ferrari World but again we did not go in.  They have the fastest rollercoaster in the world here accelerating 240km/h in under 5 seconds. We stopped here first but, to most people’s disappointment, they were not able to have a go on it as it was still closed.

Advantage Conference

We had our welcome dinner for the conference at The Atlantis, where we enjoyed wine on the beach before being seated for an international buffet dinner. The first day of the conference was spent networking with different tour operators during the speed dating sessions. This was a good opportunity for me to meet more suppliers and gain contacts. The second day of the conference was spent with keynote speakers such as Ellis Watson and Martina Navratilova; we all thought Ellis Watson’s speech was amazing and inspiring. Everyone in the room was hanging off his every word. We also had some reality training from Bob Morrell and Jeremy Blake; they were both brilliant and very entertaining.

Dubai City Tour

 Dubai Creek

Our tour guide was Mike again which was fantastic. We got the opportunity to see The Burj Al Arab, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s House and The Burj Khalifa. We also had some time on the bus looking around the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk. We got on a traditional wooden boat called an abra to cross the creek and reach the Spice & Gold Souks. This gave us a real feel for the old Dubai, as the abras have been used here for years. The Gold Souk was amazing; there are so many shops all selling gold, you don’t know which one to choose. Mike advised us that you can normally get the price down about 50-70% from what is first quoted, so this is definitely the place to go for a bargain on gold items.

Trip Highlights

I really enjoyed this trip, we had an amazing Kuoni representative and our group was lovely. Visiting the Gold Souk & Ferrari World was my favourite part of the trip.

Possible Improvements

As we were there for the conference we didn’t get to experience as much of Dubai and Abu Dhabi as much as I would have liked, but that couldn’t have been changed. We did as much as we could in the short time that we had.

Recommendations

Yes, I would recommend both Abu Dhabi and Dubai to holidaymakers. Dubai is for people that want to be on the go all the time and see a lot of things, whereas you can relax in Abu Dhabi but there is still lots to see if you choose to. It is a great twin centre if you want the best of both worlds.

Must see? The Burj Al Arab
Must do? Gold Souk
Must try? Cross the creek on an Abra

If you would like to visit Abu Dhabi, Dubai, or both like Melissa, we can help to arrange a trip that suits you perfectly. This type of holiday would appeal to couples and older families and is perfect as a way of enjoying some winter sun. Drop by one of our travel agents in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire for more details.