Emirati Safari

Who would think of setting out to the Emirates for a Middle Eastern road trip? You might not have until now but with the fantastic option of luxury hotels opening in a number of the lesser known Emirates, I was very excited to set off on a Middle Eastern adventure visiting new properties in the ever growing exciting metropolis, Dubai, and its grown up sophisticated sister, Abu Dhabi.

Anantara Dubai is one of the newest and exciting luxury openings on the exclusive Palm Jumeirah. The over water villas are the first of their kind in the UAE and the lagoon access rooms are a perfect option for those who prefer a pool dip rather than plunging in the ocean, accessible right from your room!

The view from one of Over Water Villas

The view from one of Over Water Villas

Everyone is always struck by the friendliness and attentiveness of the staff who make you feel like a veritable Sheik during your stay!

Anantara’s unique culinary and gourmet experiences are a must try for foodie guests and those looking for a bit of an adventure at Anantara Dubai The Palm. T

Dining by Design is a very special dining experience….expect lanterns on the beach and endless courses of exquisite food. We had the Arabian experience so were lavished with delicious mezze!

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Fans adorn the ceiling of the private dining room at Mekong

The Spice Spoons Culinary Journey was led by the charming Chef Piroon Pumicome, who guides you through a three course Thai feast that you enjoy for lunch. We made a deliciously fresh green papaya salad (make sure you go easy on the chili…I was far too ambitious), green curry made with a fresh curry paste (the store bought version will never be the same!) and mango rice pudding. If you weren’t proud enough of the fruits of your labours you are also awarded a certificate and given a bag of treats to go home with!

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No trip to Dubai is complete with a trip to the souks where you can feast your eyes on piles of spice and gold…..

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The Beach House is a relaxed dining option by the beach. Check out the Octopus Carpaccio – one of their signature dishes!

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Next stop was the fabulous Desert Palm Dubai, nestled out of town and in its own haven of stables, polo fields and beautiful scenery.

Desert Palm is one of the world’s leading polo venues. In fact from the 18th – 22nd February, they are hosting the Cartier Cup, when the hotel  will be overtaken by a gorgeous and glamorous crowd.

Make sure to take in one of Desert Palm’s famous afternoon teas over a game of polo. Gosh, how civilised!!

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Taking in a chukka

 

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Where do I start?!

Abu Dhabi was the second stop on the Emirati Safari. Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara provides the Abu Dhabi traveller with a very interesting option. Set upon an enormous mangrove marsh, guests can ride across its waters with Ali who tells tales of UAE history or try kayaking at Abu Dhabi’s only kayaking venue.

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I was most impressed by its Anantara Spa which houses Abu Dhabi’s largest hammam. Try out the hammam experience for total relaxation after a long journey or day at work. Have a drink at the rooftop bar that looks over the mangroves for a perfect end to the day.

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A short flight away from the city of Abu Dhabi is the small private Sir Bani Yas Island, that was set up as a Wildlife Reserve by Sheikh Zahed in the 1970’s. Anantara are the only hotel group to have properties on the island making it feel exclusive from the moment you step off the tiny plane.

Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara was the first property on the island, a 64 room hotel perfect for families with numerous activities on offer and a superb spa.

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Anantara’s Al Sahel Villa Resort is Anantara’s newest opening on the island – a South African savannah right in the heart of Sir Bani Yas Island. 30 villas look out on to the Arabian Wildlife Park so prepare to open your curtains in the morning to an inquisitive gazelle or beautiful peacock. The Savannah Grill & Savannah Bar serve up the finest steaks and catch of the day.

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Over the mountain range is the Anantara’s Al Yamm Villa Resort, 30 villas tucked away along the Arabian Gulf coastline (Al Yamm means by the sea). 10 of the villas are set in front of a mangrove marsh and the rest open their doors straight on to white sands and crystal blue waters.

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Al Yamm villas are so tranquil and it is such a romantic spot for escapist couples wanting to feel like the only people on the island. The hotel’s Olio restaurant serves up gourmet Italian cuisine. I went for the Al Yamm Seafood special – a plate piled high of fresh lobster, king prawns, sea bass and juicy mussels.

And of course there is the unforgettable safari, an unmissable activity on the island where some of the world’s most beautiful creatures are almost at arm’s length.

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The Palm Jumeirah from the sky. See you next time, Dubai and Abu Dhabi!

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Ras Al Khaimah: Desert Meets Development

A mere 45 minute drive, or dock to dock sea plane, from Dubai you’ll find Ras Al Khaimah, until now a lesser known Emirate making big leaps in the luxury hospitality world. The palatial new Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is one of the latest properties to open its doors to a burgeoning 5 star crowd here. We checked it out and found it a great accompaniment to Dubai with its proximity to endless sand dunes, stellar service and acres of luxuriant space.

A few of our favourite things:

Beach and pool chilling: The Waldorf Astoria is set on a wide strip of private sandy beach, equipped with super comfy sun beds looking out to sea. By the main pool, they bring round complimentary mango ice lollies and iced water regularly – ideal for us sun-worshippers! The sleek infinity edged lap pool on the other side of the grounds is great for those wanting to get some “proper” swimming done if pool side posing is not your thing.

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Mint tea in Peacock Alley: Peacock Alley is a Waldorf Astoria hallmark – the original being the area at Waldorf Astoria New York where ladies used to strut like peacocks in their evening finery on their way to dinner in the early 1900s. The Ras Al Khaimah modern-day version is a glamorous Arabian take on the space – sweeping staircases, a beautiful fountain and high ceilings. It’s a great spot to people watch whilst enjoying a refreshing mint tea, served on a silver platter in a fabulous tea pot, natch!

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Meze: So fresh and delicious, the meze at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is addictive. The food at the hotel and all its restaurants is amazing without exception, but simple meze enjoyed by the pool was my favourite. Yum.

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Having a personal concierge: Every guest at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah has their own expert personal concierge who is on hand to make sure your stay is seamless. These ladies and gentlemen greet you as soon as you arrive, show you around your (humongous) room, and then act as your first point of call for any request, so it’s super personalised service for every guest.

Sailing: If the heat gets too much, take to the water! A catamaran trip and a dip in the warm Arabian Sea is a fun way to spend the afternoon – you can catch a beauty of a sunset too.

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The Desert: It’s on your doorstep, literally, so it’s a real must to experience. Just a short drive away are dramatic sand dunes – the proximity to space and quietness is surprising especially after a few days in Dubai. Waldorf Astoria can arrange an unforgettable picnic with a difference out on the dunes – a really spectacular experience, complete with Persian rugs, a chef and tea and macaroons on the sand.

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Check out www.waldorfastoria.com for more information.