Whether you’re a beach lover, city tripper or serenity seeker, the UAE has staycations to suit everyone. From family-friendly resorts to lavish desert retreats, these brilliantly located and gorgeously designed hotels showcase the very best of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ajman.
Even if you know Dubai, an unhurried staycation is a great excuse to really immerse yourself in the city and to experience its highlights afresh. Head to Palm Jumeirah for watersports and nightlife at Palm West Beach, panoramic views from Palm Tower Dubai, and nightly entertainment at The Palm Fountain – plus designer boutiques at The Pointe Shopping Mall. Add in independent bistros (like Ukrainian fire-cooking restaurant YOY), and the 200m-high infinity-edge AURA Skypool, and you have all the ingredients of a break with real wow-factor.
Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah, Dubai puts you within easy reach of it all – with a private section of Palm West Beach, too, right on the promenade and jogging track. No matter which room or suite you choose, you’ll enjoy a sea-view balcony and chic modern décor, plus access to Saray Spa’s thermal suite, hammam and treatments.
As for restaurants, the hotel has ten to choose from, including Mexican tacos at Senor Pico, stonebaked Italian pizzas at Cucina, and fresh Mediterranean dining at Levantera. Head up to Above Eleven – one of Dubai’s hottest rooftop bars – for a superb pisco sour, while the Myami Pool Lounge features a stunning swim-up bar.
Ajman packs a myriad of perks into its compact size: think fresh air, few crowds, and, of course, endless sunshine.
Ajman Saray, a Luxury Collection Resort, Ajman sits on its own private beach, and features two swimming pools, six dining options and balconies in every room. Here, with the sand between your toes and the sea breeze in your hair, you can laze in cabanas, savour seafood at Bab Al Bahr Beach Bar & Grill, and watch Ajman’s spectacular scarlet sunsets. It’s hard to believe that Dubai is just a 40-minute drive away, and Abu Dhabi only 80 minutes further.
There’s a wealth of cultural sights to explore nearby too, including pearl trade relics and 4000-year-old archaeological finds at Ajman Museum, plus hand-woven Emirati fabrics and dresses at Saleh Souq. Meanwhile, Al Zorah Nature Reserve offers kayaking tours and mangrove-planting experiences. Look out for flamingos!
You can get away from it all without leaving Dubai with a stay at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, which sits between the ‘trunk’ of Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina’s harbour. It's a spot so central that you could probably travel from office to pool in just a few minutes.
The resort’s staycation joys include the private white-sand Mina Seyahi Beach, one of the longest in Dubai. Its calm, sheltered water is ideal for watersports, and there are paddleboards and kayaks available to hire (plus water skiing, windsurfing and wakeboarding sessions). For thrilling rides and head-spinning slides, head to the Jungle Bay waterpark (a short walk through the gardens), while the Heavenly Spa promises a hydrotherapy area and luxurious ELEMIS treatments.
For active guests, there are four floodlit tennis courts, a state-of-the-art WestinWORKOUT gym, and exclusive rates for the two championship courses at Emirates Golf Club. But save some energy for the resort’s nightlife, too: Papillon features fine dining and cabaret shows, Bussola offers gourmet Italian fare with Marina views, and Industrial Avenue spins techno and house until the early hours at weekends.
Less than an hour's drive from Abu Dhabi lies Al Wathba, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Abu Dhabi. Watch the UAE capital's skyscrapers shrink in your rear-view and discover a vision of old Arabia, with the resort's lofty date palms, low-rise villas and cooling stone-built aflaj (waterways).
While the resort's heritage styling is peaceful and natural, this is no humble desert retreat. For starters, its Saray Spa features a traditional hammam and 11 treatment rooms, plus a vast hydrotherapy area – with saunas, steam rooms, snow caves, salt rooms and plunge pools galore. At the huge infinity pool, light bites and cocktails are served straight to your cabana, with views of the desert beyond. If the dunes are calling, you can explore further on camel rides, nature walks, falconry experiences and 4x4 tours – simply ask the concierge to arrange.
After a day of adventure, head to the outdoor terrace of Al Mesayan (one of five dining options) for more edge-of-the-world vistas and signature cocktails. Toast the sunset with a Silky Road, a cocktail featuring cardamom vodka, Chambord and fig purée, and a sweet, lemon-mint shisha.
The largest theme park resort in the Middle East, Dubai Parks and Resorts features over 100 rides, two kilometres of rollercoasters, and a dazzling array of live shows, music and entertainment. Whether you’re exploring the movie-themed rides of Motiongate Dubai, the brick-tastic thrills of Legoland Dubai and Legoland Waterpark, or the space-inspired adventure park at Neon Galaxy, this is the GCC’s capital of family fun – and Lapita, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Autograph Collection is at the heart of it all.
This Polynesian-inspired hotel is within a short walk of the entire park, so you won’t have to worry about taxis or parking. And with its huge swimming pool, lazy river and tiki-style rooms, suites and villas, there’s a real holiday atmosphere. Each accommodation includes park access, too.
While the youngsters enjoy the Kids and Teens Club, you can relax with Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massages at Ola Spa, swim palm-shaded laps of the Mahi Mahi pool, and watch the sunset over happy hour cocktails at ARI – one of four international dining options.
Published: May 31, 2023
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