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Winter Sun - UAE

November 24, 2023

Winter Sun - UAE

Ever-changing Dubai

It’s an odd place Dubai. Each of the half dozen times I’ve gone in the last 20 years it’s almost unrecognisable. Such is the rapid pace of change with a population now half the size of London and most of that since the turn of the millennium. 

The friendly general manager of the Park Hyatt, Luis Cobo, told me that a hundred new large hotels are opening in the next two years. In London we have the Peninsula at Hyde Park Corner, Raffles in the Old War Office and a further handful coming on stream. 

I like the Park Hyatts, having visited many around the world - Australia, Japan, Europe and the Middle East. This was my first time at the Park Hyatt Dubai and it was much larger than I was expecting. More resort than hotel, it’s built around a marina with golf course at one end and private residences.

I liked that they had two pools, one for families and one for adults only. Each cleverly designed with white sand beach extending halfway into the pool and overlooking the creek. Oddly, the family pool was blissfully quiet and the adult pool branded ‘Twiggy Beach’ more club, with pumping music, drinks and a magnet for the hip crowd. Nice for a few hours before withdrawing back to peace and quiet. 

DubaiWe tried three main restaurants: Thai, Indian and Italian. Food was a match for anything in London’s top restaurants. The breakfast offering was as usual an international and comprehensive feast. 

Ras al Khamaih

Modelled on the castaway resorts popularised in the Maldives this hotel was created for the Banyan Tree group and then taken over by Marriot for their Ritz Carlton brand about five years ago. Each of the 47 ‘tented’ villas have their own outside space (some with pools) leading directly onto the long deep coral sand beach that fringes the bath-water-warm sea. 

You do get a sense of remoteness if you keep your vista within about 180 degrees. The other half reveals the crane and building site skyline of an emirate trying rapidly to emulate the success of Dubai. The rooms are well appointed with all round floor to ceiling windows onto the private garden and beach beyond. The outside space shows the wear of ten years use and beating sun but plans are in place for refurbishment next year. 

All meals were excellent including at the reopened beach deck restaurant. There were some annoying little details. Safe not working until three visits later, no plug in the outside bath, housekeeping timing could have been better. Wanting complicated mixology in a dry country may be a little ambitious, but thought Aperol spritz was popular enough to get right. 

After the second flat serving and so weak it looked like pale Rose (yes I know, first world problem), I resorted to Google images to help matters along. Having said that all other drinks were perfectly served and all team well-meaning and welcoming. Anita one of the management team stepped in with her IT engineers to sort Gaby’s kindle out which refused to make connection with their wi-fi. 

We played golf on the PGA course with an instructor who struggled to contain his disappointment that I wasn’t playing like Sevvy Ballesteros after an hour coaching. Nonetheless we enjoyed the session

Jebel Jais ZipwireThe wild mountain ranges near the Omani border are an 80-minute drive away. You can take the world’s longest zip wire here from the Jebel Jais peak. An engineering marvel of 1.7 miles at speeds of up to 90mph which feels pretty close to flying.

Michael Van Clarke 





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