There's More to Dubai Than Meets the Eye

25 Jun 2015

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Travel Associates' Team Leader, Nathan Dare, is never one to let an exciting travel opportunity pass by. When Emirates and Dubai Tourism invited him on a whirlwind tour of the great Middle Eastern tourist Mecca of Dubai, he jumped at the chance. 

From luxurious resorts and enchanting cultural delights, to exciting desert and wildlife experiences, Nathan came away with this exciting tale to tell.

The giant Emirates A380 sat majestically on the Brisbane Airport tarmac, and as I studied its rounded curves and massive wing span, I knew I was in for a unique flight experience. Not surprisingly, when flying in Emirates Business Class, the enhanced comfort and convenience of this premium product is felt the moment you enter the lounge. Emirates even offers the unique ability to board the aircraft directly from the lounge, which cuts out the hassle of having to endure the crowds and lines of the terminal.

Travelling solo, I prefer the window seat when flying in the Emirates A380 Business Class cabin. The roomy 1-2-1 seat configuration means that the single window seat offers ample privacy as well as increased personal space and storage.  Equally spacious, the two middle seats are perfect for couples.

The flight itself passed in blissful comfort. The entertainment options were ample, the food – delicious – and perpetually available – made it all the more difficult to turn on the seat’s “do not disturb” sign for some relaxation, but as the Australian coastline faded away, I was indeed ready for some shut-eye, and slept peacefully for the next 8 hours.

Upon arrival, Australian travellers will find “smartgates” when entering the customs and immigration area. These handy self-service machines can process Aussie passport holders in minutes. In no time I was out of the airport and being chauffeured to the welcoming embrace of the Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa.

Al Maha is a luxury resort set deep within the UAE’s largest conservation area. With 42 magnificent villas to choose from – each with their own horizon edge plunge pool - this world class resort is the perfect place in which to relax. Cool off in the pool or sit back and relax as you admire the rolling desert sand dunes and passing wildlife. White oryx and Arabian gazelles are just two of the interesting animals that grace the picturesque landscape.

If you’re looking for things to do, Al Maha provides all kinds of activities to choose from. Safari drives, Arabian horse riding, falconry lessons, desert dinners and spa treatments can all be enjoyed in and around the resort. And then there’s the food! A full board option entitles you to the three main meals on which you can graze for hours.

Like all good things, my stay at Al Maha Resort came to an end. All was not lost though as my next stay was at the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel. Decadent, opulent, and simply jaw dropping, the hotel is perched on a small man-made peninsula, dominating its Arabian Sea shoreline location.

Lead-in rooms are beautifully decorated and feature bi-level floor plans with all the amenities a guest could want. Escorted by my butler, Alexander, we made our way to my room on the eleventh floor.  Once in the elaborate room, Alexander quickly pointed out all the features, including how to make the television appear from behind the writing desk, how to effectively use my four wardrobes and how the in-room Jacuzzi was operated.

Of course a stay at the Burj Al Arab would not be complete without experiencing the high tea service in the aptly named Skyview bar. For views of a different kind, the antipodean dining experience provided by Al Mahara with its undersea setting is equally spectacular. The restaurant’s “signature experience” provides a delicious mix of menu items.

With a sad goodbye, it was off to possibly the most underrated hotel in Dubai – the Creekside Park Hyatt in Deira. Its Moroccan style, low-rise construction allows the refreshing afternoon breeze to roll off Dubai Creek and through the resort. I have always found this particular hotel to be understated in its appearance; however the location and level of service is absolutely first class. The Terrace Bar is a great place for a sun downer or two, allowing the Arabian breeze to take the sting out of the summer sun.

One of my most memorable birthdays was spent on the 122 floor of the world’s tallest building, at the AT.mosphere restaurant in the towering  Burj Khalifa. Surrounded by staff, colleagues and friends, I was treated to a birthday cake and plenty of cheers. To watch the sun disappear to the west, whilst surveying the expansive Dubai landscape was a truly incredible experience.

Whilst in Dubai, there were many other experiences that I was lucky enough to enjoy. Hot air ballooning over the conservations reserve was memorable for the unique desert scenery, while an unintentional landing in the Sheikh’s desert palace provided some levity to the trip. Other adventures included sky diving over The Palm, Zheng He’s and private safari dining, dolphin swimming at Atlantis, golf at Park Hyatt and visits to many of Dubai’s top hotels and resorts.

Nathan Dare is the Team Leader of Dare & Turner Travel Associates in Broadbeach, on Queensland’s Gold Coast. With close to 15 years experience in the travel industry, Nathan has travelled to more than 50 countries. His personal favourites for travel include China, Bolivia and Germany.   

Todd Sturm

I currently live in Brisbane, Australia. No matter where my travels take me, I enjoy experiencing each destination from the perspective of the locals. Some of my favourite attractions include historic sites, national parks and architectural landmarks.