Lifestyle, Travel

Dreams Begin In Dubai

Until I started going to Dubai a few years ago, I had never experienced the level of luxury that Dubai has. In general when I holiday, I like to indulge in nice hotels as I work very hard and don’t go out that much so I have no guilt in selecting great holiday destinations but, a 5 star hotel in Dubai is incomparable to any 5 star hotel in any other country. The standards of Dubai are of exceptional standards and as I said – they do not settle for second best. They do everything bigger and better than anywhere else in the world, it really is of no surprise that so many international companies have bases there.

From speaking with people, they either love or loathe Dubai. Some people say that Dubai is “fake” and “uncultured” but for me, I instantly fell in love with this magical city of the United Arab Emirates. Dubai has only become the global business and tourism hub that it is in the past 30 years which is incredibly admirable and they have grown like no other destination in the world. The City’s economy is driven by hospitality, aviation, real estate and financial services. The city has become iconic for it’s skyscrapers and high rise building, notably housing the tallest building in the world, The Burj Khalifa.

When I go to Dubai, I always like to book with a travel agent and I find Brendan in Tropical Sky to be brilliant. I would recommend signing up to their email service so that you get notified of special offers – which they quite regularly have. The flights to Dubai are direct from Dublin Airport with Emirates – which are undoubtedly, one of the best airlines in the world!

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The great thing about the daily flight that goes from Dublin is that it is a night time flight, so you have plenty of time to travel to the airport that day so you don’t need to have an over night at Dublin for any early morning departure and also, you can sleep on the flight and wake up in sunny Dubai.

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Crazy as it may seem, one of my favourite parts of any holiday is the airport and the flight. I love the complete zoning out and being in the moment on the flight with the anticipation and excitement of the week ahead.

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Every time that I have booked with the agency, I have opted for an all inclusive package for the 7 nights. Movenpick The Ibn Battuta Gate are one of the few hotels in Dubai that offer “all inclusive” and I would highly recommend it. The “all inclusive” includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and all beverage. It is important to note that Dubai is expensive to dine with a nice bottle of wine in or around the €120, so really, all inclusive is a great way to go. We still dine out some nights but at this particular hotel the choice of restaurants is just incredible and the food standard is superb. There is an Italian, an Indian, an Asian and the buffet dining restaurant as well as a ‘pub’ with bar food so the options are really excellent and you certainly could never tire from them. They also have a gorgeous poolside menu with lovely salad and sandwich options and they also have a restaurant at the hotels’ private beach club which is also included. They also do the traditional “Friday Brunch” and I would highly recommend you book this in before you arrive as it fills up very quickly.

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The lobby of the hotel is a magnificent and very impressive space that hosts the weekly Friday Bunch.

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The bedrooms at the hotel are incredible. I have been very lucky and been upgraded during my stays to one of their corner suites and they are really splendid. They have 2 bathrooms, a living room and the bedroom. They are really more like apartments and they have huge balconies – although we tended not to use the balcony, preferring to opt for the comfortable air conditioned interior after generally spending 12 hours basking in the Middle East sunshine.

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The hotel has a swimming pool on site and has a private beach on Jumeriah and they hotel offer a complimentary shuttle service every hour to take guests to their beach club.

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I would usually start the day at the pool and then spend the afternoon at the beach. The water is literally like a bath, it is so warm. It is a vast difference to the chilly waters in the Med.

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Even though the hotel has a private shuttle service for guests, you can equally just hop in a taxi as taxi’s are incredibly cheap in Dubai. There is also an excellent metro service in Dubai and it again is really cheap and incredibly efficient. On the metro, there is a female only carriage for women and children. And even though Dubai is very safe, you need to know, like anywhere, it is a different culture and when travelling, different cultures need to be respected. Dubai is very strict and does not under any circumstances tolerate any anti-social behaviour so people know not to step out of line. It’s interesting to observe for example at beaches, people leaving their bags whilst swimming on their loungers – if you take a bag, you won’t have a hand to take it a second time. Simple and very effective. And even though Dubai is very safe, you still, like anywhere aren’t stupid about your own personal safety.

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As well as the glorious sunshine, Dubai has so much more to offer for visitors.

I would recommend in any city that you do the hop-on, hop-off bus tours – and Dubai is no different. It will give you the opportunity to see all of Dubai over a 48 hour period and of course, hop-off at the places of interest.

For shopping, a trip to the Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates is essential. To escape the hot sunshine you can opt for an evening of skiing in the shopping centre or maybe a visit to the penguins. There is also an aquarium in the shopping centre which is a really popular sight for families (the other aquarium option is in the Atlantis The Palm – you need to see this hotel). Next to the Atlantis (and part of the hotel) is an aqua-park that I would recommend if you like waterparks – again – Dubai does everything bigger and better than anywhere in the world!

With further shopping you can see the Gold Souk – but really, this was not something that I enjoyed or liked at all. The gold in Dubai is very cheap though if you do like gold but I would recommend doing this as part of the bus tour. Whilst on the topic of jewellery, if you were on the hunt for a diamond – Dubai is the place! They have a shopping mall of just diamond stores!! You will pick up a diamond ring in Dubai approximately 50% cheaper than at home. The most recommended jewellers for diamonds there is Cara Jewellery.

As an experience to do once, have afternoon tea in the Burj Al Arab. This is the only 7 star hotel in the world and it is something that you should do while in Dubai. You need to book this in advance so I would do this prior to arriving in Dubai and make sure that you ask for a window seat.

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Another place that I would definitely recommend going to for a stroll around the shops and a nice lunch is Souk Madinat Jumeriah.   And also, go to the Dubai Marina for drinks or dinner on an evening.

To be honest, the list I have given you only has a handful of just some of the amazing sights to see in Dubai. Dubai may not be for everyone but it certainly is a place that has part of my heart and a city that I will always fondly love and look forward to visiting. For those of you that know me well, I am a complete home bird – however, if I was ever considering living in another place, Dubai would be it. The only thing with Dubai is that living there is definitely very different to holidaying there and if you are not earning a very high sum, it is not a fun place to be then. The double edged sword is certainly that whilst it has glitz, glamour and exceptional wealth, it has no middle ground.

I’m a former restaurant owner and HR professional. I offer HR and Training advice to companies, mainly in the area of Customer Care, Employee Relations and Training. I am a former candidate of TV3 The Apprentice and current panelist on TV3 Midday. I am also a regular radio contributor and a professional event MC and host.

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