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Atlantis The Palm, Dubai

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Adventure awaits beneath the towering Arabian arch of Atlantis, The Palm – Dubai’s most iconic ocean-themed hotel! Inspired by the legend of the Lost City there’s fish-shaped door handles, shell patterned carpets and luxury underwater suites. You’ll find everything you could possibly need – or want – from a luxury getaway here with award-winning dining, an on-site waterpark and plenty of activities to keep you entertained, no matter what your age.

Atlantis The Palm Aerial
Aquaventure Waterpark

Recommended By

Dee, our Middle East Product Manager, for the ultimate fun-filled escape in Dubai. Also, there’s excellent kids stay FREE offers available year-round when you book with Best at Travel!

Where

At the very tip of Dubai’s famous Palm Jumeirah, Atlantis, The Palm has one of the best locations in the entire city with incredible views across the Arabian Gulf.

Best For

This is one of our top picks for a family destination in Dubai thanks to its two excellent clubs. First up: Atlantis Kids Club where little ones are entertained with arts and crafts and supervised activities. While Club Rush is for teens with a dance floor, games lounge and regular movie screenings.

The Lost Chambers
Atlantis The Palm Royal Pool

What To Do & Where To Eat

Make the most of unlimited complimentary access to Aquaventure Waterpark where you can flow round the Lazy River or shoot along a waterside through a glass-enclosed shark tank. Also, you can enjoy FREE entry to the Lost Chambers Aquarium, home to 65,500 marine animals including albino alligators! And we promise you’ll never go hungry with 23 restaurants and bars  from including Michelin-star and celebrity chef dining. We love brunch – a Dubai ‘must do’ activity – at Saffron where you’ll be treated to 20 live cooking stations and music by the resident DJ.

Ossiano Seafood Restaurant
Aquaventure Waterpark

Our Favourite Room

The Poseidon and Neptune Suites for their floor-to-ceiling views of the Ambassador Lagoon, private elevator access and extra perks from chilled Dom Perignon champagne and personal butlers – no request is too big or too small.

Underwater Suite
Underwater Suite

Good To Know

Upgrade to Imperial Club for access to the Club Lounge with complimentary daily breakfast, afternoon tea and evening drinks. PLUS you’ll benefit from private check-in and check-out to really make you feel like a VIP.

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The Alternative Guides to Dubai

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Digging far deeper than the ‘Burj’ and the ‘Palm’, our four Alternative Guides to Dubai are geared towards fashionistas, culturistas, families and well-being fans who want to venture away from the confines of their hotels and experience something a little different.

Because there’s so much more to discover beyond Dubai’s aquariums, shopping malls and indoor ski slopes. Luxury hotels, white sand beaches and warm weather aside, our Alternative Guides share expert tips such as where you’ll discover Dubai’s only plastic-free raw food vegan café or the most instagrammable cocktail bars for trend-setters and unusual workouts from skateparks to aerial yoga for fitness fanatics. Or the secrets of under-the-radar Alserkal Avenue, the hub of Dubai’s booming modern art scene for culture lovers. And, for families wanting to see more than just beaches, we’ll share a local’s guide to child friendly hangouts for some hard-to-beat family bonding time.

Read our Alternative Guides to Dubai: 

Book your Alternative Dubai holiday:

Get out there and do something a little different. Our 5 night holiday packages start from just £569pp! Visit our website to view our tailor-made itineraries or give us a call today to get expert advice from our travel specialists. See our best Dubai offers.

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Get the Inside Track on Dubai’s Booming Health and Wellness Scene

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With glorious year-round sunshine and a coastline lapped by shimmering turquoise water, it’s no surprise that Dubai is one of the world’s hottest destinations for those looking for some all-important R&R. But beyond the body-boosting benefits Vitamin D, Dubai is a destination where wellness is booming: over the last five years the sun-soaked Emirate’s health scene has flourished, with the launch of flavour-packed vegan brunches and some of the world’s hottest new exercise classes. Here we give you the inside track on where to eat, exercise and chill during your holiday in Dubai.

Master an Olympic sport at XDubai Skatepark

Think skateboarding is a sport for surly teens killing time on their school break? Think again. The up-and-coming sport is set to make its debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and if you’re looking to hone your core and challenge your brain,  it’s one of the coolest new skills to master. Dubbed by many as the ‘new surfing’, it’s a sport that you can hone in your own time, but why not give yourself a head start at XDubai Skatepark – the largest skatepark in the UAE. The vast space is a mind-boggling maze of flatbanks, craters, up-down rails and bowled corners. Not sure what that means? No problem – you can book into one-on-one hour-long lessons that will teach you the key moves. xdubai.com

Lift your feet off the ground at Define yoga

Dubai has become a hotbed of restorative new yoga experiences. Full moon yoga beneath a starlit sky? You bet. An annual yoga festival, complete with multiple stages visited by 13,000 keen yogis? Of course. After a day of lazing on the beach or racking up the steps exploring Dubai’s malls, the coolest place to relax and rewind is the Define Yoga studio. Define Yoga may have made its start in the US, but it’s now Dubai’s leading hangout for hammock yoga, where you’ll elevate your yoga skills by ta

king on new moves in a series of fabric hammocks which drape down from the ceiling. The class will bring a whole new meaning to lengthen and release, and expert instructors are on hand to make sure you leave your class with a brag-worthy Insta story. dubai.definebody.com

Stretch weary limbs with The Stretch Studio

Long-haul flights can play havoc with your body, but you can fast-track your recovery by booking a stretching session with a flexologist at The Stretch Studio. The sessions improve flexibility, motion, relieves stress on joints and even re-aligns the muscles in your body! It might sound a little intense, but really your stretching your muscles in the best way possible and with the help of a professional. Forget spending the first few days of your holiday feeling stiff and sleepy – with this you’ll feel fresh and nimble. stretchstudios.com.au/copy-of-double-bay

Devour a vegan brunch at Organic Foods & Cafe

Dubai may be famous for its decadent brunches, but it’s not all limitless oysters and free-flowing champagne. Organic Foods & Cafe is a family run business that stocks over 10,000 hormone- and chemical-free products sourced from family run farms around the world. Pop in to one of their shops for the Long Breakfast – a feast of healthy delicious eggs, yoghurt, fruit and more, or check out their Vegan Brunch. Held over one weekend every month (check the site for dates) it’s a hot contender for the best vegan brunch the world – one that’ll have even the most avid meat-eater queuing up for another serving of gluten- and dairy-free kale chowder. organicfoodsandcafe.com

Relax in Al Barari’s peaceful gardens and spa

Venture into the lush green world of Al Barari and you’ll soon forget that Dubai is in fact a desert. The vast oasis, just a 25-minute taxi from downtown, is home to a staggering collection of themed gardens, naturally landscaped lakes and freshwater streams – along with the region’s largest privately owned plant nursery. At the heart of the super serene space is the Heart & Soul Spa, a peaceful, light-filled haven that’s the most relaxing spa experience in the region. The only problem is deciding what to pick: the treatment menu features facials and massages from luxurious Australian and Japanese brands, but our choice has to be the sound bath ritual, which uses the power of sound to release negative emotions, leaving you feeling ultra calm and content. heartandsoul.ae

Go raw at Super Natural Kitchen in Galeries Lafayette

Eating out doesn’t have to be naughty on the waist line. Super Natural Kitchen is Dubai’s only 100% raw, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and plastic free restaurant and it’s one of the Emirate’s hippest hangouts for healthy and wholesome cuisine. They are known for their yummy raw cakes like salted caramel and the jam-packed menu is created by head chef  and London trained Athena Matheou. She is really pushing the boundaries with plant-based foods. Tucked away on the 2nd floor of the Galeries Lafayette wing of the Dubai Mall, the restaurant is the perfect pitstop for shoppers looking to fuel-up on filling yet healthy dishes. snkitchen.com

Break a sweat with Orangetheory Fitness

It’s only been a few months since Orangetheory Fitness opened up at Dubai’s Times Square Centre, but it’s already hailed as the most hip and hardcore work out in town. The 60-minute interval based training programme will see you moving through a series of sweat-inducing cardio exercises before a serious muscle-quivering strength-training session. Instead of just slogging away like most exercise classes, you’ll be given a monitor that will track your heart-rate on a big screen, pushing you to work in the orange ‘fat burning’ zone – and helping you to burn calories for up to 36 hours after you stumble out of the door. Looking for an incentive to work harder? It’s right here. facebook.com/OTFDubai

Read our Alternative Guides to Dubai: 

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Dubai for Fashionistas: the Best shops, Restaurants and Experiences

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With opulent multi-story malls, sprawling spice markets and cool little boutiques, it’s no wonder that Dubai is one of the world’s most famous shopping destinations. Not only that: the glittering Emirati is the place to see and be seen – whether its rubbing shoulders with boho celebrities in the trendy independent stores in the design district, sipping cocktails at a bar-with-a-view or Instagramming the interiors of Dubai’s most colourful and eclectic restaurants. Whether you’re a hardcore fashionista or just love to browse the shops, here are our top picks for a stylish getaway in Dubai.

Find a vintage-style gown at Bambah

You may not associate Dubai with vintage shopping, but when Maha Abdul Rasheed opened Bambah, one of Dubai’s first high-end vintage fashion boutiques, it was an instant hit. Maha has since developed the Bambah brand to create her own original pieces inspired by the 1950s. From glamorous ball gowns to vintage-style everyday wear, the Bambah boutiques are filled with a staggering collection of sensational prints, colours and cuts that you are unlikely to find at home. Even if you’re not looking for a glam new dress, it’s a brilliant place to browse.

Bambah

Sip cocktails at Siddharta Lounge by Buddha Bar

Chilled-out beats, zesty cocktails and candlelight set the sauve scene at Siddharta Lounge, one of the most sophisticated bars in the city. Grab a seat on a silky cushion in the tiered garden, which has 360-degree views over the the Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah and the Arabian Gulf, and indulge in a spot of people watching – this is where Dubai’s wealthy and famous come to eat and drink. Choose from a drinks menu of fruity handcrafted cocktails and champagne, while the pinxtos and sushi menu is perfect if you’re feeling peckish.

Overhaul your wardrobe with Style Me Divine

If you’re feeling uninspired by your holiday wardrobe then book a one-on-one shopping session with one of Dubai’s leading personal styling agencies, Style Me Divine. The three-hour-long sessions can range from closet detoxes – which will help you decipher what you think you need, versus what you actually need – to a ‘travel in style’ session, which will help you pick out several stylish pieces that seamlessly blend fashion and function. With the help of one of Dubai’s leading stylists, you’ll start to reconsider your choices, helping you create a super chic look that makes you feel stylish, and comfortable in your own skin.

Style Me Divine

Get a manicure at Kozma and Kozma 

At Kozma and Kozma they do things differently – and that’s why we love it. It may position itself as a beauty and nail salon, but it’s so much more than that: a trip here is an experience for all the senses, whether it’s sampling popping candy from the sweet jar or Instagramming the salon’s floral chandelier – yes, that’s a thing. Their treatment menu is equally fun – pick from a PomPom Monster Pedicure, where your feet sit in a pool of purple gel-filled balls, or a signature Tropical Island Manicure, where your hands are revived with a brown sugar crystal scrub, before a relaxing hand massage. Of course, nail colours and designs go beyond the ordinary: crystal, chrome or candy are de rigueur, so you can forget the everyday nude. kozmaandkozma.com

Book brunch at Flamingo Room by Tashas 

Dubai is Instagram heaven: with topaz-blue sea, shimmering skyscrapers and slick surroundings, your grid will be filled with wanderlust-inspiring pictures. For the best food and interior shots in town, head to Flamingo Room by Tashas. The ultra-chic and glamorous room features dusty-pink ceilings, ‘70s-inspired statement lighting, zebra-print fabrics and plush velvet chairs, while the dishes – including lobster benedict – are some of the prettiest meals in town. Book ahead to dine at one of the most stylish spots in Dubai.

Flamingo Room by Tashas in Dubai

Shop and eat at Comptoir 102

This super-stylish concept store is adored by Dubai’s fashion-forward bohemian crowd, and no wonder. The vast light-filled space is inspired by a 1970s Californian villa, and has been conceived as a low-key home, with a lounge, dining area and terrace. Shelves are lined with the finest crockery, home linens, silk pyjamas and dainty jewellery – all of which have been hand-picked by the effortlessly cool French owners – while the popular onsite cafe goes big on organic dishes, gluten-free pancakes and detoxifying juices. Pop in to shop, but be sure to stay for lunch. comptoir102.com

Accessorise your life at Mochi

Located in the heart of Dubai’s design district, Mochi is an independent boutique that celebrates the art of embroidery. Founded by designer Ayah Tabari in 2013, the store has had a quick and well-deserved rise to fashion fame, with celebrities including Cara Delevingne and Georgia Jagger sporting Tabari’s colourful creations. The vibrant and eclectic pieces – ranging from chandelier earrings to rainbow-hued kaftans – have been handcrafted by local artisans who use traditional embroidery methods to create contemporary pieces. The result? One of the most exciting shops in Dubai.

Read our Alternative Guides to Dubai: 

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Fun for the Whole Family in Dubai

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Ski slopes? Check. Terrifying waterslides? Check. Epic rollercoasters? Check check check. When it comes to family holidays, Dubai is a destination filled with options. But beyond the obvious family hangouts is a holiday destination that is brimming with many lesser-known sights and experiences, with fun new play parks, museums and food stops popping up every year. With that in mind, here are our top picks for a relaxed and fun-filled trip to Dubai.

Visit The Yard for farm animals, picnics and outdoor yoga

Family adventures in Dubai don’t have to be expensive or extravagant, so if you’re looking for a laid-back day out, then The Yard is just the place. Located in the Al Khawaneej area, the newly opened space is a great to spot to indulge in simple family pleasures, from having a picnic in the beautiful meadow area, to petting the furry farm animals. There are plenty of family photo opportunities, too, whether it’s next to the 18m-tall windmill, in front of the the colourful murals or on the Promise Bridge, where you can declare your love for your partner and attach a padlock – like Paris, but better, of course. theyarddubai.ae

Last Exit Dubai

Spend the evening at Last Exit’s fun food truck parks 

Whatever food you’re craving on your trip to Dubai you’ll find it here: decadent brunches, wholesome vegan pancakes or messy burgers, there’s a restaurant to suit you, and your family. For a casual and fun-packed meal out, check out the popular food truck gatherings from Last Exit. There are four outposts dotted across Dubai, and the lively spaces, complete with live music, are filled with the best food trucks in the region. Try crepes from the Saddle Cafe, Poco Loco for flavour-packed tacos and chicken wraps from Hot Chix, or swing by the Jebel Ali Max X location for Mad Max-themed trucks. Don’t miss Just For Kids, a truck that’s kitted out with friendly monster mascots. lastexit.ae

Stimulate body and mind at Oli Oli interactive museum

Oli Oli may be described as an interactive children’s museum, but that doesn’t do this stimulating rainbow-hued play area justice. The two-floor indoor space is filled with natural light, has plenty of space for kids to run wild and the best bit – eight interactive zones with over 40 activities. The themed areas – think water play, an air zone for building paper rockets and a fort building zone – encourage children to be curious and adventurous. Don’t miss Toshi’s nets – a vast room of multi-coloured nylon that’s been crocheted into climbing walls, swings and tunnels by 77-year-old Japanese textile artist, Toshiko MacAdam. olioli.ae

Oli Oli interactive museum

Feed turtles at the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Programme 

For a fun, free and educational morning out, see the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Programme in action at Jumeirah Al Naseem. The expert team here are in charge of rescuing turtles and nursing them back to life, before releasing them into the sea. The turtles wear trackers, and the team continue to monitor their progress, letting you and your family check back to the Facebook page to see where each turtle has got to. The enclosure is open all day every day, but visit on Wednesday at 11am for a chance to feed everything from 60kg loggerheads to junior hawksbills. facebook.com/turtle.rehabilitation

Go climbing at XPark Junior

Sandpits, slides and climbing ropes – children will have their fill of fun at Dubai’s newest play park. Located just off Kite Beach – a great spot for older children to try kite surfing and skate boarding – the shaded play area is made up of colourful flower beds, wood chippings and trees instead of concrete and rubber play mats. After they’ve tumbled around the playground and hurtled down the slide there’s a small petting zoo with a cute pony and relaxed rabbits to hold, plus a shaded fountain area for cooling off. facebook.com/xparkjr

XPark Junior Dubai

Ride trucks at Dig It 

Watch your children get behind the wheel of a pedal-powered tractor, master the art of controlling the arm and bucket of a mini digger and even explore the cabin of a real-size digger, at Dubai’s new Dig It. Located in Springs Souk, the play park has been specially designed to help children learn to team build, but that’s the half of it. Children will see their miniature trucks brought to life, and also get to try out lego car racing, driving remote control RC trucks and soft play. The only problem? When you have to drag them away… 

See crocodiles, hippos and tigers at Dubai Safari

More than just a safari park, Dubai Safari is a game-changing wildlife enclosure that’s the plush home of 2,000 animals representing 250 species. Along with cheetahs, giraffes and hippos, you can take in the world’s first drive-through crocodile exhibit, and the UAE’s only drive-through hippo and tiger exhibit, where you’ll see the animals roaming through their vast surroundings. Don’t miss the Safari Village, home to the baboon canyon, where over 70 baboons live together in one large troop, and the Arabian Village, where the Dubai Safari Conservation team are on hand to tell you how they are reintroducing animals into the wild.

Read our Alternative Guides to Dubai: 

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How to Get your Culture Fix in Dubai

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Dubai may be famous for its palm-shaped islands, crazy-high buildings and calm, pristine beaches, but beyond the obvious holiday hangouts you will discover a destination shaped by people from all over the world. Get your culture fix by visiting the lofty galleries run by the region’s most respected artists, try out one of Dubai’s oldest traditions of pearl diving, or take to the street to explore the local food scene. Think Dubai is just shopping and sunbathing? Think again.

Visit the Design Dubai District (D3) for Emirati couture and contemporary art

This huge urban design space is the hip hangout of Dubai’s art-loving crowd. Hosting pop-up fashion stores, temporary art installations, design studies and cool cafes, it’s a brilliant place to discover local emerging talent. Before your visit, check out the website: it’s stacked with workshops you can get involved in, from mastering the art of painting with watercolours, to learning to draw with your mouth – yes, really. When you’re not picking up a skill, peruse the shops. The Lighthouse is great for luxe home accessories while the Craft Cafe serves the best tumeric latte in the area. dubaidesigndistrict.com 

 Design Dubai District

Watch falconry displays at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve 

Beyond Dubai’s shimmering skyscrapers is a wilder, unspoilt desert that’s waiting to be discovered. Take a trip the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, a vast and peaceful swathe of desert designed to protect and preserve the local flora and fauna. Try out desert activities, including dune bashing and camel trekking, but don’t leave without witnessing a falconry display. Falconry is an age-old tradition in the country, and the huge birds used to play a vital role in the hunt for food. You can see the majestic birds in action, hear about their breed and characteristics from the falconer and get up-close pictures. Ddcr.org

Explore the neighbourhoods on a street food tour

To really get under the skin of a destination you need to eat the local food, so loosen your belt for a brilliant tour with the foodie guides at Frying Pan Adventures. The four-hour-long Little India on a Plate tour takes you through Dubai’s oldest and most vibrant neighborhood, where you’ll sample traditional Indian curries and snacks at six local eateries.  The half-day Dubai Souks and Creekside Food Walk is a great chance to hear about the history of the spice- and textile-packed souks, while sampling traditional Indian, Arabic and Iranian delicacies. Dubai is home to a fantastic blend of cultures, culinary techniques and flavours, so come hungry and prepare to eat. A lot. fryingpanadventures.com

Dubai Street Food

Gallery hop through Al Fahidi

Take a stroll through the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, close to Dubai Creek, for an insight into life before the Emirates were formed in 1971. Dubai’s Sikki Art Fair may be hosted here every March, but art lovers should head to Al Fahidi at all times of the year, ducking into the small galleries – which are located in the courtyards of the old houses – and chatting to local artists. Swing by The Majis Gallery, which was founded in 1989. The space used to be the number one artist hangout, and is now a space lined with paintings, sculptures, glasswork and photography. Also seek out XVA to see the best of contemporary Middle Eastern art. themajlisgallery.com

Visit super-cool Alserkal Avenue for art and workshops

For under-the-radar art make a trip to Alserkal Avenue, the hub of Dubai’s booming modern art scene. Set in the emirate’s warehouse district, the uber-cool, laid-back space is now crammed with things to see and do – from pop-up street concerts to life drawing workshops. Recent exhibitions include the colourful large-scale works of Kenny Scharf and Philip Taaffe, but if you’re not here for the art then visit for the cool independent stores. Chocolate lovers should head to Mirzam, where dark, rich bars are made using only three ingredients: cocoa beans, unrefined cane sugar and cocoa butter. Elsewhere is The Flipside, Dubai’s only independent record shop – leave time for a browse. Alserkalavenue.ae

Diving for Pearls in Dubai

Dive for pearls

Pearl diving is an emirati tradition that dates back a staggering 1,000 years, and although pearl diving isn’t a major part of daily life in Dubai today, you can still learn about the incredible adventures of former pearl divers, and even have a go yourself. Tours are led by Major Ali Saqar Sultan Suwaidi, a third-generation diver, who’ll accompany you on a traditional dhow out into the Arabian Gulf, recounting his experiences as a pearl diver, and explaining why pearls have played a huge part in the region’s growth and history. After a lunch of fresh fish and salad it’s your turn: slip into authentic Emirati divers overhauls and jump into the emerald water, diving down to scour the sandy bed for pearl-filled oysters. jumeirah.com

Take a dip in the mountain town of Hatta

Surrounded by the vast, sun-scorched Hajar Mountains, Hatta is a refreshing day-trip from central Dubai, thanks to its humidity-free climate and magnificent mountain scenery. To really make the most of it, book onto a safari tour. You’ll travel by 4X4 to the restored old fort of Hatta, where you can stroll through peaceful courtyards and see the Juma Mosque that dates back to 1780. After a bit of history, you head to the crystal-clear Hatta Rock Pools – fresh water springs that are carved out of the river bed. Cool off in the waterfall, float on your back and gaze up at the cloudless sky.

Read our Alternative Guides to Dubai: 

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Escape to Excellence

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Step inside a set of large striking black doors and find an ultra-contemporary and sophisticated premium All Inclusive beach hotel… welcome to the truly excellent Excellence El Carmen!

Want to know what a typical day looks like when staying at this five star adults-only property in the Dominican Republic? Let us show you…

Start with a tricky dilemma: where to eat breakfast? Will you head to the Lobster House to enjoy an a la carte menu, feeling the gentle sea breeze at this quaint al fresco restaurant close to the beach. Or will you sample the extensive buffet at the impressive Kitchen Table with its diverse range of fresh ingredients, many sourced locally.

Then it’s decision time again: to the beach or the pool? Take your pick of sun loungers on the 2,000 foot stretch of soft golden sands dotted with palm groves or laze beside one of the many swimming pools – unless you can be tempted to join one of the informal activities from guided bicycle rides through the surrounding countryside to snorkelling the waters.

When lunchtime comes around you’ll have a number of restaurants to choose from: will it be seafood, Italian of buffet dining? Or if you’re only feeling peckish, the trendy Food Shark, housed in a converted VW Campervan, offers burgers, tacos and light bites until 6PM. Spend a relaxed afternoon in the shade or in your suite – where the minibar is restocked daily – participating in the local pastime of an afternoon siesta; you’re in the Spanish Caribbean after all!

As the sun sets and evening creeps in head to the striking Martini Bar for pre-dinner cocktails, then take your time ‘window shopping’ which of the restaurants you’d like to eat at. Our recommendation is the pan-Asian culinary experience at Spice with its Teppanyaki stations making for a sociable atmosphere.

Love a bit of evening entertainment? You won’t be disappointed! The performances of the nightly shows are top quality, though the entertainment is not the main focus of the resort. If you would prefer to spend time in quieter areas just the two of you, you’ll find it very easy to do so.

And so to bed. After another day in paradise end the evening with a final tipple on your private patio before relaxing within the sumptuous interiors of your suite.

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The Best Hotel in The Maldives

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Whilst you might associate the Maldives purely with honeymooners and romantic getaways, with 26 islands to choose from there is a hotel for everyone; the just marrieds, sports enthusiasts, partiers, spa-goers or families alike.

Since we couldn’t pick just one, check out five fantastic hotels in the Maldives to suit a range of travellers.

For romantic retreats…

OBLU Select by Atmosphere at Sangeli Island

Lets face it, you are spoilt for choice for romantic getaways in the Maldives! We love the added extras available for honeymooners at OBLU Select. Enjoy couples only villas with private pools, complimentary bottle of champagne, canapés and fruit platter on arrival, couples’ treatments at the ELENA Spa, complementary adventure activities and entertainments and a special evening turndown service as part of the impressive Serenity Plan.

For a sumptuous spa break…

Baros Maldives

Voted the top luxury spa resort in the Maldives by travellers on Tripadvisor, and the World Travel Awards Winner 2017 of “Indian Ocean’s Most Romantic Resort”,  it isn’t hard to see why this boutique resort scores so highly with visitors. Soak up the tranquility from one of the island’s beachfront or overwater lagoon villas before checking out some seriously relaxing, tailor-made spa treatments. Choose experience dining on a sandbank, piano deck or private island dining or enjoy spectacular ocean views from the Lighthouse restaurant located at the edge of the jetty. When you are feeling more adventurous check out the plethora of watersports, fitness centre or complimentary yoga classes on offer.

Best for nightlife

Dhaalu Atoll

Spanning two stunning tropical islands, the five star Niyama Private Islands resort boasts the most restaurants and bars of any resort in the Maldives. Be sure to check out the  famous underwater club Subsix and the impressive drinks menu of Fahrenheit. For something more substantial, visit the unique tree-house setting of east asian restaurant Nest or the relaxed campsite vibe of Tribal, which offers impressive cuisine from Africa, Central and South America. You are also able to enjoy a relaxing spa treatment at any time of the day or night at the 24 hour Lime Spa. An award-winning kids club and babysitting service means you can happily bring the whole family along too.

For all out luxury…

One&Only Reethi Rah

Hotels in the Maldives are known for their luxurious touches, exemplary customer service and added extras. We love the award-winning One&Only Reethi Rah (Reethi Rah fittingly meaning ‘beautiful island’) for it’s stunning beachfront and overwater villas, fantastic facilities (including 12 beaches, adults and children only swimming pools, watersports, tennis and rock-climbing to name but a few) and the One&Only Spa by ESPA which includes a vitality pool, ice fountain, steam and sauna, pedi/manicure studio and a hair salon alongside stunning ocean view treatment rooms. In keeping with the decadent theme, the airport transfer can be completed via speedboat or  luxury yacht. The island even operates its own time zone an hour ahead of the Maldives capital Malé so that sunset cocktail hour falls at a more appropriate time!

For families…

Constance Moofushi

An all rounder with fantastic dive sites, a sumptuous spa and extensive ‘Cristal’ all inclusive option, we also love this hotel because it caters to that traditionally tricky teen market. The BlueTribe dive centre offers a fantastic range of diving course and talks aimed at children and they have done away with the kids club format to provide complimentary yoga and a specific games area with ping-pong, pool, giant chess, water polo and beach volleyball available for your not-so-little darlings. Even the complimentary mini bar includes crisps, nuts and chocolate bars for constant grazers!   

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The Best Islands to Visit in The Maldives

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The Maldives’ 26 ring shaped islands are actually made up of around 1,200 coral atolls so whatever you are after, be it the picture perfect romantic setting, water sports or fine dining, the Maldives has you covered! If you are travelling between islands your hotel will usually be able to arrange transfers, or you can contact Maldivian Air taxi directly (www.maldivianairtaxi.com; 00 960 331 5201).

With further ado, here is our roundup of the best islands to visit in the Maldives.

Best for dining: Rangali

Technically two islands linked by a 500m footbridge which play host to the magnificent Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort. Here you can find arguably the finest restaurant in the Maldives, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, which is also the world’s first all-glass underwater eatery. Observe reef sharks and manta rays glide past as you feast on a 6 course meal of stunning, contemporary European dishes. For the more budget conscious, you can also limit yourself to an impressive cocktail menu or a four-course lunch. If you ever get tired of the view, head above sea level to a tempting selection of 6 other restaurants at the resort, including the impressive Ufaa offering chinese cuisine from celebrity chef Jereme Leung. For those who like a tipple or two, (start to!) work your way through the 30,000 different wines on offer in the Island’s famous Wine Cellar or the 80 different types of Martini Cocktail on offer in Vilu Bar.

Best for diving: Helengeli

Home to the all inclusive OBLU by Atmosphere resort, Helengeli also plays host to its own reef, a spectacular array of marine life and a 5* diving centre. Its location in the channel between a deep lagoon and the Indian Ocean makes it an ideal diving hotspot with at least 20 impressive dive sites on the doorstep. No wonder it is rated one of Dive Magazine’s top 10 diving resorts in the Maldives coming first of all resorts in the Maldives in their 2017 DIVE Travel Awards and second overall in the world. Divers enjoy the more relaxed vibe of the island and excellent value of the all-inclusive options on offer. And when dry land beckons, check out the Elena Spa, Beachfront restaurant or poolside Helen’s Bar.

Best for families: Halaveli

Despite appealing to the romantic getaway market, the Maldives has now also branched out into family friendly holidays, seemingly realising that those romantic couples will be having children somewhere along the way! Despite a fairly lengthy flight from the UK, the predominance of ‘one hotel per island’ resorts brings freedom for little adventurers and peace of mind for parents. A convenient 25 minutes by seaplane from Malé is the family friendly Constance Halaveli Resort. With a fantastic, complimentary kids club running from 9am – 9pm, resident doctor and tennis and watersports lessons on tap there is plenty to keep little people happy… and a rejuvenating spa and premium all inclusive package bound to bring a smile to older faces too!

Best for a romantic getaway: Veligandu

Home to the five star adults only Anantara Veli Resort and Spa, it doesn’t get more Maldives then this tropical  paradise island which seems to have been created with honeymooners in mind. ‘Dine by Design’ under the stars, beneath a traditional faree tent or picnicking on a deserted island and soak up the relaxed vibe from the infinity pool, wine room or onboard a luxury yacht.  For those in search of a more active holiday, the Aquafanatics Watersports Centre (as the name suggests) provides a range of activities to keep even the most adventurous entertained.

Best for the eco-friendly: Dhuni Kolhu

Tourism in the Maldives can definitely a double-edged sword when it comes to the environment. Preserving the fragile ecosystem of the surrounding coral reefs and the traditional Maldivian culture has become the focus of many resorts in the Maldives archipelago, none more so than the impressive Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. Alongside the breathtaking beaches, sumptuous spa and stunning overwater villas which are a common sight in the Maldives, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu also offers the eco-friendly traveller a clear conscience as it provides a nesting place for the endangered indigenous green turtle and various marine conservation projects plus a focus on growing fresh produce on the island rather than being imported. Sexy it may not be, but the island also houses an on-site water production, glass bottling plant and waste management centre for recycling aluminium, glass and styrofoam and those big no-nos plastic bags and bottles are banned.

 

 

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The Best Time to Visit the Maldives

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The destination of choice for honeymooners the world over, the Maldives is an island nation uniquely made up of a string of 26 islands comprised of over 1,192 smaller coral islands, lying southwest of Sri Lanka and India in the Indian Ocean. With breathtaking beaches, stunning scenery and coral reefs second to none, it’s not hard to see why the Maldives ticks so many boxes. Think private-island resorts, diving into translucent 25°C waters and cocktails on a pristine white beach and you’re halfway there.

The weather in the Maldives is consistently hot and sunny, with daytime temperatures of around 30°C and evening temperatures around 25°C all year round. However, there are two pronounced seasons; the dry (or high) season which lasts from December – April and the rainy season, which lasts from May – November and peaks around June. As the name suggests, the rainy season (which is also referred to as the South West Monsoon) sees the highest levels of rainfall and humidity. Therefore, the most popular (and, as such, more expensive) time to travel is from December – April.

But before you discount the rest of the year when temperatures are still consistently high, remember the Maldives is renowned for activities such as scuba diving, snorkelling and spa retreats. Ideal rainy day pursuits should your trip see the odd downpour or two and you may just be able to bag yourself a bargain and some serious tranquility travelling during off peak months.

Whatever time you choose to visit, check out our essential Maldives to do list below.

  • Snorkelling and diving – Tourists don’t just flock to the Maldives for the romance. Its location at such a distance from other land masses makes it arguably one of the best places in the world for diving and snorkelling with fantastically impressive coral reefs and marine life that need to be seen to be believed. For adventurous water sports enthusiasts, you can also check out water flying, tubing, parasailing and – for the more experienced surfers – there are waves that you’ll be hard pushed to beat.

  • The world’s first underwater spa – Only 30 minutes from Malé International Airport is the private lagoon resort of Huvafen Fushi, whose spa offers guests underwater couples treatment rooms and an underwater relaxation area where you can truly be at one with nature. Boasting awe-inspiring views of the lagoon’s reef as well as weird and wonderful tropical fish which call the Indian Ocean home, it goes without saying that this resort is adults-only!
  • A day trip to the capital city – Whether you are passing through from the airport on your way to your own personal island paradise, or you take one of the frequent boat trips on offer from various nearby islands, make sure you spend some time in the Maldives capital city of Malé to really experience some of the local culture. In contrast to the relaxed pace of surrounding islands, vibrant skyscrapers, bustling fish and fruit markets vie for space with historic mosques and football pitches (a firm favourite with locals!). Make sure you find time to explore the history of Malé and the Maldives culture at the National Museum. For the foodies amongst you, try cuisines from around the world including Maldivian, Asian, Indian and Malaysian in the myriad of restaurants dotted throughout the city.
  • Visit a deserted island – Despite the boom in tourism since the 1970s, there are still a large number (approximately 1,000) uninhabited islands in the Maldives. Organise a boat trip for the day and play Robinson Crusoe soaking up the tranquility on a private beach or lagoon, as well as catching and cooking your own meal.

  • Soak up the sunset/sunrise – And if you can do so from your own private deck or plunge pool, overlooking the crystal clear waters, so much the better!

Getting there

The only international airport in the Maldives is Malé International Airport which is located on Hulhumale Island. Hulhumale is 35 minutes by ferry from Malé island where the Maldives capital Malé can be found. Ferries between the airport and the capital cost the princely sum of around 50p!

There are no direct flights from the UK but the following airlines will get you there from around £400 per person outside of peak travel periods.

  • Emirates Airlines (0844 800 2777; www.emirates.com) flies from Heathrow and Gatwick to Malé via Dubai.
  • Sri Lankan Airlines (020 8538 2001; www.srilankan.aero) flies from Heathrow to Malé via Colombo in Sri Lanka.
  • Qatar Airways (0870 389 8090; www.qatarairways.com) flies four times a week from Heathrow to Malé via Qatar.

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The Best Resorts in the Maldives

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The Maldives is well known for its picture postcard beaches, azure lagoons, stunning coral reefs and aquatic wildlife.  However, tourism in the nearly 1,200 small islands which make up the Maldives only began relatively recently. In fact, tour groups only started arriving in 1972 when the first resorts (Kurumba Island and Bandos Island) opened, catering to around 300 guests.

Flash forward to 2018 and there are now hundreds of resorts spread across the islands which encompass the Republic of Maldives, catering to around 1.3 million tourists a year.  It is now also possible to stay at a number of guest houses which have sprung up across the islands following a law change in 2009, meaning tourists are allowed to stay with the local population rather than just on privately owned island residences.  

For sheer luxury and indulgence, you can’t beat the stunning resorts the Maldives has to offer. We have shared some of our favourites with you below.

  • Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru – This five star plus resort occupies the entire island of Vabbinfaru, and is only a 25 minute speedboat ride from Male (the capital of the Maldives). All villas come complete with their own private swimming pool and private dining is available either on the beach or in your own private villa.
  • Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Hurra – A great all rounder with a family friendly focus. Featuring private pools, villas (quite literally) sitting atop the ocean, as well as pampering like none other, this hotel consistently receives fabulous reviews and it’s easy to see why.

Pictured Above: Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Hurra

  • Mercure Maldives Kooddoo – This new resort has been built with local materials and features both beachfront and over-water villas. Best of all, the resort is within a direct flight of the capital Male so no speedboat transfers needed! Complimentary water sports are aplenty, with snorkelling, sailing and kayaking all free.
  • Shangri-La Villingili Resort And Spa – Built on stilts above the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean, this five-star resort boasts a highly rated spa, excellent activities and even has a 9 hole golf course. After a busy day of water sports, running trails and yoga classes, visitors can choose between five restaurants and bars that serve a variety of international flavours.
  • Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru – Maldives – One of those rare resorts which seem to have something for everyone; families and couples, the health conscious and luxury seekers alike. With four swimming pools, a spa, kids’ clubs and even a submarine experience for two, this resort has it all.
  • Six Senses Laamu – The only resort on the Laamu Atol, Six Senses Lammu was rated as one of the top 10 romantic escapes in the world by Traveller magazine. Keen eyed Star Wars fans may notice some similarities between the nearby islands and the planet Scarif from Rogue One, namely because this was one of the main filming locations for the planet. Many of the villas at Six Senses come with their very own swimming pools, and we especially like the resort’s beachfront ‘Cinema Under the Stars’ idea.

Pictured above: Six Senses Laamu

  • Atmosphere Kanifushi – This luxury five star resort is surrounded by pristine beaches, and is one of our top picks for its fantastic all inclusive package. Specifically, if you opt for the Platinum Plus package you can expect lounge access at the seaplane terminal, meals, premium beverages, a round of sunset fishing, a complimentary excursion, use of an in-villa mini bar which replaced twice daily, 50% off couples massages and so much more.
  • Cocoon Maldives – Voted the Leading Design Resort in South Asia in the SATA Awards, this attention to detail shows in the outstanding reviews on Tripadvisor. The resort’s Lagoon Villas are especially sought after, and the island itself is known as one of the most beautiful in the Maldives.
  • LUX* South Ari Atoll Maldives – Lux by name and luxurious by nature – stunning setting and a host of activities to suit all travellers. Voted “Indian Ocean’s Leading Hotel” in the World Travel Awards 2017, the resort is situated on one of the largest islands in the Maldives and boasts a range of luxury suites and villas. This resort is especially popular with foodies since it boasts 7 restaurant and 6 bars.

Pictured Above: LUX* South Ari Atoll Maldives

  • The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi – Another World Travel Awards Winner 2017, this time for “Indian Ocean’s Leading Family Resort”. Guests will be spoiled for choice when it comes to mealtime with no less than 14 restaurants and bars to choose from, offering Indian, French, Japanese, Vietnamese, Maldivian and Italian cuisine.

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The best time of the year to visit Thailand

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Whether you are after exotic beaches, impressive temples, zen-like spas, amazing cuisine or the hedonistic nightlife, Thailand ticks all the boxes. No wonder then that it is known as the Land of Smiles! But when is it best to visit to get the most out of your trip?

Thailand’s tropical climate is common of Southeast Asia and generally falls into three seasons. The rainy monsoon season of May-October, the cool season from November-February and the hot season from March-May when it is not unusual for city temperatures to reach an impressive 35°C. As such, the best time to visit weatherwise is often seen as the cool season from November-February when temperatures are the most pleasant and rainfall is at its lowest. Although despite the name, Thailand’s ‘cool’ temperatures of 30°C would be considered a heatwave in the UK!

Unfortunately, the best time to visit can also mean the busiest, but a little research means you can soak up the sun and unique cultural heritage without the crowds and spend around 31% less doing so.

The real monsoon season doesn’t tend to hit until July-October, although expect rain showers from May onwards. Phuket, Thailand’s biggest island, sees a consistent year round temperature of around 30°C and there are plenty of varied activities on offer whatever the weather such as jungle hiking, water sports, diving…. or nature watching and indulgent spa retreats for those who prefer a more relaxed pace. Travel there in May and – according to Skyscanner – you’ll be spending 43% less than if you travelled during pricey December.

Direct flights are available from London to Phuket and start from around £350. If you are planning on breaking up your journey and want to spend a couple of days in the capital, consider flying into the main hub, Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, from £250 and travelling on via regional airlines.


What to see and where to go:

With so much on offer, the only issue is how to fit it all in! Check out our round up of must visit places and events below to add to your bucket list.

  • Bangkok – No visit is complete without a trip to the capital city. By day, take in the elaborate temples and ornate palaces, shop ‘til you drop whatever your budget in high end shopping malls or local street markets like Chatuchak and Sampeng, or take a day trip to the nearby river island of Koh Kret. By night, enjoy a nightlife like no other.
  • Chiang Mai – The largest city in Northern Thailand. Brave the sometimes unpredictable weather to admire numerous, stunning Buddhist temples (over 300 hundred to be exact), stunning botanical gardens and fascinating hill tribe villages.
  • Pattaya – Only an hour from Bangkok, be sure to add this fascinating city to your must-see list. Visit the spectacular Khao Chee Chan Buddha Mountain and enjoy a plethora of activities such as water sports, bungee jumping, horse riding, golf and diving alongside an impressive nightlife.
  • Phuket – Soak up the culture on Thailand’s biggest Island via magnificent beaches, stunning architecture and mouthwatering cuisine. If you visit in October, enjoy the fascinating ceremonies of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, a must-see (and taste!).   
  • Ko Samui – the island is extremely popular with visitors due to the stunning wildlife, white sandy beaches and spectacular scenery, not to mention the luxury resorts and spas. Find time to see the impressive 12m-high golden Buddha statue which can be found on a small island just off Ko Samui, and make sure to set your alarm for the impressive sunrise vista… we promise it is worth it.
  • Hua Hin – A stunning beach resort made popular by the Thai royal family in the 1920s and located south of Bangkok at the Gulf of Thailand. Enjoy incredible beaches and experience the local culture at impressive temples and bustling night markets.  

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Dubai Holidays from Glasgow

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Say Och aye to Dubai!

They may seem a million miles apart (although only 4,852 to be exact), but it is easier than you might think to travel from Glasgow to the sun drenched shores of Dubai. In 7 and a half hours you can fly direct from Glasgow International Airport to Dubai International Airport courtesy of Emirates from around £530 return per person.

Located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is the largest city in the United Arab Emirates and it is a mecca for both tourism and the global business community. With transport connections to all of the major international cities and a plethora of activities to keep you entertained, it isn’t hard to see why. Whether you decide to take a luxurious break on a long journey or you make Dubai your one-stop destination you won’t be disappointed.

Where to go and what to see in Dubai – our top 10:

  • Burj Khalifa – Impossible to miss at 828 metres high, the world’s tallest tower welcomes visitors to the world’s tallest observation deck, fittingly named “At the Top” on the 148th floor.
  • The Dubai Mall – You’ve seen it on the Apprentice, now experience it for yourself. The Mall’s  1,200-plus shops sit alongside 150 restaurants, an indoor theme park, an ice rink, an indoor waterfall, a choreographed outdoor fountain and the giant Dubai Aquarium. Plenty to keep the whole family entertained indefinitely.
  • Dubai Creek – The waterways and souks of ‘old Dubai’. Head to the heart of the city which the Bani Yas tribe originally called home and learn more about Dubai’s fascinating history at the Dubai Museum before a visit to the intriguing souks selling gold, spices and beautiful textiles. A ride on an Abra (a traditional canal boat) is also a highlight.
  • Palm Jumeirah – The iconic man-made island in the shape of a palm tree. Hop on the monorail from the mainland to visit an impressive selection of hotels and eateries.
  • The Walk and Beach at JBR – Not just any old beach, The Beach opposite JBR also hosts top DJs every weekend, a regular outdoor cinema and an impressive waterpark.
  • The Desert – Less than 20 minutes drive from downtown Dubai will find you in the impressive Arabian Desert. Blend the old and new with a camel ride or quad biking safari, or perhaps stay a little longer and treat yourself to dinner under the stars.
  • Al Fahidi (“Dubai’s past”) – one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Dubai, where you can take Arabic classes, heritage tours and guided mosque visits to gain a real understanding of traditional Dubai.
  • Dubai Parks and ResortsOne for the families, Dubai is soon to introduce an exciting collection of theme parks such as Motiongate, Bollywood Park, as well as its very own Legoland. Sure to delight both the young and young at heart!
  • Al Warqa’s Dubai SafariHome to 2,500 different species of animal (rising to nearly 5,000 by 2020), explore four themed areas of the park: the Arabian, Asian, African and Safari Village.
  • The Dubai Opera – Enjoy a cultural experience to rival the West End or Broadway in an intriguing space inspired by the shape of the Arabian Dhow ship.

Pictured above: Dubai Opera

Dubai vs Glasgow – The Weather

Dubai is also known for its sunny desert climate and –  just in case you needed another reason to visit – check out these average temperature differences between Glasgow and it’s exotic Middle Eastern counterpart!

Average temperature (°C)
Jan Feb Mar April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
Dubai
19 20 23 26 31 33 35 36 33 29 25 21
Glasgow
3 4 6 8 11 13 15 15 13 10 6 4

Popular Hotels & Resorts in Dubai

Of course, one of the main draws of Dubai is its stunning, luxurious, and sometimes over-the-top  hotels. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Rixos Bab Al Bahr – One of our most popular hotels in Dubai and it’s not hard to see why. This 5* resort has it all; fantastic beachfront location, 15 restaurants and bars, a huge selection of activities, entertainment… and family friendly to boot!

Pictured Above: Rixos Bab Al Bahr

  • Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai – Oozing the effortless cool of the Nikki Beach club. Mingle with the coolest of the cool at this classy beach retreat on Dubai’s stunning Pearl Jumeirah shore. Fantastic food and laid back vibes courtesy of the best DJs in town will ensure that you relax in style.
  • Conrad Dubai Hotel – Right in the heart of the action in Dubai’s financial and shopping district, the luxurious Conrad Dubai Hotel caters to those wishing to work or play during their stay. Take advantage of easy access to all of Dubai’s must visit attractions such as the Mall, Marina and its ever-growing range of theme parks. Alternatively, why not stay in and enjoy a host of fantastic facilities and restaurants such as Marco Pierre White’s Grill or an impressive wine cellar with over 1500 international wines on offer.
  • Lapita Hotel – A fantastic base for the attractions of Dubai Parks and Resorts, the 4* plus Lapita Hotel is the only resort to be situated within the theme park itself. It is as family friendly as you could imagine with dedicated children and teen clubs to appeal to the younger members of your group.
  • Hilton Al Hamra Beach and Golf Resort – As the name suggests, the 5* Hilton Al Hamra offers the best of both worlds for the keen golfer and beach lover. Ideally located between the impressive Al Hamra Golf Course and the beautiful coast of Ras Al Khaimah, take a break from the fairway to enjoy a relaxing treatment in the magnificent spa or, for the thrillseekers, enjoy the numerous watersports and activities on offer.

 

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Dubai Holidays in December

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Renowned the world over for its beaches, hot weather and luxury hotels, Dubai is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. But how does the city hold up in the winter months, and what’s it like to spend Christmas in the City of Gold?

Glad you asked!

In this article we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about holidaying in Dubai in December, including what you can expect with the weather, where you can secure the best hotels deals, the best day trips and – most importantly – where you can find a good old fashioned Christmas dinner.

What’s the weather like?

Expect highs of between 25 to 28 degrees celsius in the day, and lows of 16 to 19 degrees at night. Dubai’s humidity in December usually sits around the 60% mark, and the likelihood for sunshine is approximately 75%.

Will it be warm enough to sunbathe?

By European standards, most certainly!

What are the best tours in December?

The winter months provide a unique opportunity to enjoy desert safaris without the intense heat, and for that reason alone it’s our top pick. From camel riding to quad bike riding, dune bashing experience to belly dancing under starlight, there are a huge array of options to choose from. Here are our personal favourites:

  • Moonlight Overnight Desert Safari – This overnight trip has it all. Starting with a 4 x 4 trip in to the desert, the pedal quickly hits the metal when tires are deflated and 40 minutes of thrilling dune bashing begins. Once the adrenaline has worn off, your 4 x 4 will drive to the top of a nearby dune and you’ll be able to take photos of the sunset over the Arabian Desert. You will then head to a nearby Bedouin style camp where you’ll be greeted with coffee and dates. In the evening there is a BBQ and buffet dinner, with live belly dancing and tanoura dance performances. Overnight you’ll be staying in a cosy tent, complete with a tasty breakfast to enjoy in the morning.
  • Camel Safari with Dinner – This authentic experience offers a 45 minute camel desert safari, followed by a sunset falcon show and an evening at an authentic Bedouin camp. Evening entertainment includes henna tattooing, bread making, cultural entertainment performances… oh yes, and a delicious meal!
  • 4×4 Dune Bashing – Somewhat self explanatory in that you will be ‘bashing’ dunes in a 4 x 4!
  • Sand Skiing – Who needs the alps when Dubai has 300 metre high dunes to ski down? Well, we say ‘ski’ but what you’ll actually be doing is sand-boarding or sand surfing, although the principle remains the same; ascend your chosen dune, affix your chosen board, and glide down the aforementioned dune looking effortlessly fabulous.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more traditional winter activity then look no further than Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. Featuring snowboarding, tobogganing, skiing, and coming complete with a chairlift for that authentic Alp-like experience. Ski Dubai is centrally located in the Mall of the Emirates, and you can check out their website here.

Do any restaurants serve Christmas Lunch?

You may be surprised to hear that there are a number of restaurants serving Christmas Dinner in Dubai, with this website covering some of the very best.

That being said, our personal recommendation is Bread Street Kitchen & Bar at Atlantis The Palm. This Gordon Ramsay restaurant offers the quintessential Christmas brunch with all of the trimmings, including a choice of roast turkey, vegetarian Wellington or – for those looking for something a bit less traditional – seafood. As you would expect, there’s also a huge range of starters to choose from, as well as a cheese and bread station. For dessert, we hear the Eton Mess is especially good!

Where can I celebrate New Year?

Visit Dubai has perhaps the best overview of Dubai’s New Year’s Eve parties, and indeed our personal recommendation comes #1 on their list.

Starting at 7:30pm, the New Year’s Eve Royal Gala at The Atlantis is one of the most prestigious events in Dubai’s calendar. Live music starts at 8pm and there is free-flowing alcohol (including champagne) all night, as well as a luxury buffet serving caviar, lobster, sushi… not to mention a myriad of other culinary delights designed to tickle your taste-buds.

Just don’t forget your posh frocks because this event has a strict dress code!

Where can I find the best hotel deals?

On Best at Travel of course! Here are some of our top deals for December 2018, with prices correct at the time of writing:

 

Best for Christmas

Hotel: Lapita Dubai Parks and Resorts

Basis: Half Board, 7 Nights

Flying From: London Gatwick

Dates: 21st December 2018 to 28th December 2018

Price: From £1,288pp, based on 2 sharing.

Star Rating: 4 star plus

Get ready to be entertained when you stay at this Polynesian-themed hotel just a short walk from Dubai Parks & Resorts’ exciting theme and water parks. Prices for two people sharing start at £2,576, a massive reduction from the normal £4,437.

 

Best for New Year

Hotel: JA Jebel Ali Beach Hotel

Basis: All Inclusive, 7 Nights

Flying From: London Heathrow

Dates: 27th December 2018 to 3rd January 2019

Price: From £1,2,701 based on 2 sharing.

Star Rating: 5 star

This award-winning family beach resort is surrounded by streams, ponds, waterfalls and a private 800 metre beachfront. Prices for two people sharing start at £5,402, a considerable saving on the normal price of £6,360.

 

For even more options be sure to check out our full list of Dubai Holidays here.

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Dubai Holidays in October

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Dubai is a fantastic city to visit at any time of the year, but October stands out for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the children are back in school, so prices tend to be much more favourable than in the middle of summer. Secondly, Dubai’s weather is still fantastic in October, with temperatures usually in the low to mid 30’s. The sea is also at its warmest in October although, in all fairness, the Persian Gulf is warm all year round.

If you’re considering a holiday to Dubai in October then this article should answer any questions you might have!

What’s the weather like?

In a nutshell, hot! October tends to see little to no rain in the United Arab Emirates, and average temperatures for Dubai range from a high of 36°C to a low of 25°C. We’ve included an ‘at-a-glance’ table below showing how Dubai’s climate in October compares to other popular holiday destinations:

Destination Average High Average Low Expected Rainfall
Dubai, UAE 36°C 25°C Little to none
London, UK 16°C 10°C 10 days
Rome, Italy 22°C 12°C 7 days
Marrakech, Morocco 28°C 15°C 1 day
The Maldives 30°C 26°C 7 days
Orlando, Florida 29°C 20°C 5 days

In terms of Dubai’s daylight hours in October, expect sunrise at around 6:15 and sunset just before 6pm.

Will I need a coat?

With little to no rain and lows of 25 it’s highly unlikely, but we would advise packing a light coat if you’re considering an overnight trip into the desert since it can get a little nippy after dark.

How much cheaper is Dubai out of the school holidays?

We looked at three of our best selling hotels in Dubai and – on average – prices for a family of four were 26% cheaper outside of school holidays. Just another reason to book an October holiday in Dubai!

What events are on in October?

If you’re a theatre or opera lover then Dubai has plenty of big shows coming in October. Ghost The Musical is running from the 9th to 13th October at the Dubai Opera, and is followed at the end of the month by Swan Lake. More details about both of the shows can be found on the Dubai Opera website.

Those of you looking for something a bit more contemporary might be interested to know that trip-hop pioneers Morcheeba are also playing at Dubai Opera, on Wednesday 31st October.

Where can I find the best hotel deals?

On Best at Travel of course! Here are some of our top deals for October 2018, with prices correct at the time of writing:

 

Best for Luxury

Hotel: Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah

Basis: Bed & Breakfast, 7 nights

Flying From: London Gatwick

Dates: 3rd October 2018 to 10th October 2018

Price: From £5,152 per person, based on two sharing

Star Rating: Five star plus (marketed as seven star)

What can we say about the Burj Al Arab that hasn’t already been said? Probably the most luxurious hotel in the world, and indeed the only one marketed as seven stars, the property features ceiling-to-floor aquariums, dancing fountains and even 24-carat gold iPads offered to guests at check-in!

 

Best for Smaller Budgets

Hotel: The Cove Rotana Resort, Ras Al Khaimah

Basis: Bed & Breakfast, 7 nights

Flying From:  London Gatwick

Dates: 10th October 2018 to 17th October 2018

Price:  From £638 per person, based on two sharing.

Star Rating: Five star

The Cove Rotana is a luxury, five-star resort sitting on a 600 metre stretch of beachfront overlooking the Arabian Gulf in Ras Al Khaimah. The resort is also popular with families and features a dedicated children’s pool and kids’ club.

 

Best for Families

Hotel: Fairmont Ajman

Basis: Full Board Plus, 7 Nights

Flying From: London Heathrow

Dates: 3rd October 2018 to 10th October 2018

Price: From £962 per person, based on four sharing.

Star Rating: Five star

Fairmont Ajman is set on a 200 metre stretch of beach and offers specialised kids’ menus, a kids’ club, beach toys and a dedicated children’s pool.

 

For even more options be sure to check out our full list of Dubai Holidays here.

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Guesthouses to control half of Maldives traveler bed limit by 2028

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Guesthouses to control half of Maldives traveler bed limit by 2028

Guesthouses in the Maldives have 8,000 beds between them.

The guesthouse market will control half of the Maldives tourist accommodation capacity by 2028, the Maldives Association of Travel Agencies and Tour Operators (MATATO) said.

MATATO president Abdulla Giyas Riyaz said that the guesthouse sector was the fastest developing sector of tourism in the country.

According to the Tourism Ministry the tourist accommodation capacity or bed capacity for the Maldives is 42,929 per night. This figure is divided among 792 establishments including high-end tourist resorts on private islands, guesthouses and hotels on inhabited local islands and cruise vessels.

Resorts controlled the majority of the accommodation capacity with over 30,000 beds, while 459 guesthouses had 8,000 beds between them as of July this year.

“19 percent of the bed capacity in the Maldives is controlled by the guesthouse sector. Hulhumalé alone has 1,750 beds in 83 guest houses,” Riyaz said.

While Malé’s suburb Hulhumalé has the majority of guesthouse beds, Maafushi has over 1,000 beds too. The rest are distributed among guesthouses scattered around other islands near the capital.

“These numbers are very interesting,” Riyaz said, “The guesthouse sector is just 10 years old. But this is the fastest growing sector in Maldivian tourism.”

“I estimate that within the next 10 years, 50 percent of the tourist bed capacity in Maldives will be controlled by guesthouses.”

Riyaz was speaking at the MATATO’s Maldives Travel Awards Guesthouse Edition, held in Hulhumalé.

Ukulhas in Alifu Alifu atoll took the top accolades, as the leading guesthouse island of the Maldives and leading beach island. Reveries Diving Village in Laamu atoll was named the leading guesthouse.

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Travel

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Mingozzi takes up culinary administration of Kanuhura, Maldives


Chef Michele Mingozzi has joined Kanuhura, Maldives, with strong international experience and reputation, having worked in numerous remarkable fine-dining establishments around the world.

His experience includes time at two- and three-Michelin star restaurants in Italy, Germany and London.

His passion for food and flavour took him to the Philippines, the Middle East, Singapore and Fiji, where he headed the kitchen for the celebrated Laucala Island Resort, owned by Dietrich Mateschitz, the owner and founder of Red Bull.


Taking over the culinary reign at Kanuhura, Maldives, chef Mingozzi will be responsible for the resort’s eight dining outlets as well as numerous destination and special dining locations and experiences. Chef Michele will focus on high-quality, fresh food blended with Maldivian food culture with worldwide food traditions.

Comprising three main restaurants, the culinary concept at Kanuhura Maldives aims to add value to the guests’ dining experiences by implementing diverse, smaller dining outlets in different locations set across the island, including the Chef’s Herb Garden where guests can pick fresh ingredients and cook alongside the culinary team while dining under the stars at a ‘secret’ table surrounded by flickering candles at the heart of a gorgeously lush and aromatic herb garden.

Key sushi dishes from the innovative Sushi Swing Bar menu include the sumptuous Champagne Yuzu Lobster roll, Truffle Creamy Lobster Tempura roll and the Waygu Beef roll.

Locally sourced tuna is used in the menu, as well as reef fish whenever possible.
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Travel

Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort to open in December

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Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort About to open in December

Marriott International has announced the forthcoming debut of Westin Hotels & Resorts in the Maldives with the opening of the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort in October.

The resort is set to herald the Westin brand’s wellness positioning in the Maldivian oasis.

Nestled on a beautiful coral island in the Baa Atoll, a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site, the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort will feature 70 villas and suites, 41 on island and 29 overwaters.

Poised over the sea on stilts and with an area of almost 200 square meters each, the overwater suites are amongst the largest a resort has to offer in the Baa Atoll region.

Assembled by award-winning Milan-based architects Peia Associates, the resort’s design takes inspiration from the ocean with a visionary approach towards environmental sustainability.

The dining options include three resort restaurants and a rooftop bar.

The all-day dining experience at Island Kitchen stays true to the Westin brand’s ‘eat well’ pillar through a thoughtful menu combining Chinese, Indian and Maldivian fare.

The Pearl is the resort’s specialty restaurant and is the ideal venue to indulge in exquisite Japanese cuisine in an elegant setting with exceptional ocean views.

At Hawker, guests can sample authentic Asian food in a casual and buzzing restaurant and bar with a live kitchen.
The Sunset Bar is a relaxed lounge serving tapas and imaginative cocktails created by talented mixologists.
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Travel

3D printing innovation to help coral development in Maldives

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3D printing innovation to help coral development in Maldives

Moulds were slotted together underwater, like a giant aquatic LEGO set, to create the new reef.


The world’s largest and the Maldives first 3D-printed reef was installed by a resort at the weekend, with the technology being used to help protect coral reefs.
The artificial reef, assembled with hundreds of ceramic and concrete modules, was submerged in seven metres of water in a part of the lagoon where Summer Island Maldives  is building a new coral reef ecosystem.
Coral reefs are under threat from climate change. In 2016 a particularly strong El Nino weather event, which caused sea temperatures to spike, devastated coral reefs across large parts of the Maldives. Climate change makes these coral ‘bleaching’ events increasingly likely and severe.
The project started in Australia, where industrial designer Alex Goad of Reef Design Lab used computing modelling to design reef structures similar to those found naturally in the Maldives.
A 3D printer took 24 hours to print moulds which were then cast in ceramic, an inert substance similar to limestone rock, and shipped to the Maldives. They were filled with marine concrete on the resort’s beach before being taken into the lagoon and assembled.
Like a giant aquatic LEGO set the 220 ceramic, concrete-filled moulds were slotted together underwater to create the new reef.
Coral fragments, grown on the resort’s existing and extensive coral nursery, were transplanted onto the 3D reef. In a few years, when the corals have colonised the reef, the resort wants a new reef teeming with fish and other marine life.
If the 3D printing technology proves successful, it could be a new way of helping coral reefs adapt to a warming climate.
“This is a science project, it’s a research project,” said Alex Goad. “3D printing technology helps us to mimic the complexity of natural reef structures, so we can design artificial reefs that closely resemble those found in nature.”
Goad will make his modular 3D designs open source, so other researchers in the Maldives can benefit from them without having to pay a licence fee.
The resort aims to study the reef with the help of marine biologists over the next few years, to see if the 3D version is better at encouraging coral growth than existing methods of artificially growing corals, such as with steel frames.
It has also introduced other environmental initiatives including the adoption of solar energy, a ban plastic straw usage and phasing out imported drinking water.
Resort manager Mari Shareef said these policies were popular among guests and staff.
“We want to help promote a culture of environmental stewardship, not just at Summer Island, but across the Maldives,” she said.
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Travel

UK explorers support tourism figures in Maldives

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UK explorers support tourism figures in Maldives

Latest figures from the Maldives show that the destination saw an 11.2 per cent increase in the number of UK travellers who visited in the first six months of 2018, when compared with the same period in 2017.

In total, 57,535 UK tourists arrived in the Maldives from January – June 2018, compared with 51,737 in 2017.

June itself also welcomed a 6.2 per cent growth in the number of UK tourist arrivals, when compared with the same month in 2017.


Overall, 6,459 travellers from the UK visited the Maldives in June 2018, compared with 6,081 in June 2017, accounting for 6.9 per cent of all tourist arrivals to the Maldives and therefore representing the third largest inbound market for arrivals globally, after China (17.5 per cent) and Germany (eight per cent), respectively.

With regards to total worldwide arrivals, 93,786 travellers visited the Maldives in June 2018 and this represents an increase of ten per cent when compared with June 2017, which welcomed 85,222.

The first six months of 2018 have seen 726,515 global tourists visit the Maldives, an increase of 10.5 per cent when compared with the same period of last year.

This year the Maldives will further confirm its status as one of the most attractive holiday destinations for UK tourists, with the opening of at least 23 new resorts.

The island nation was also recently crowned as the Indian Ocean’s Best Spa Destination at the World Spa Awards.

Commenting on the increase of tourist arrivals, the Maldives minister of tourism, Moosa Zameer, said: “We are once again very pleased to see a notable increase in the number of UK and worldwide arrivals to the Maldives.

“The increase is testament to the country’s world-class tourism industry and with several exciting developments planned for the remaining months of 2018 and into 2019, including the opening of a number of resorts, we look forward to welcoming even more UK tourists to our shores.”
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