Dubai is one of those must-see places
Mike Whiting, managing editor with Holiday Extras, travelled to Dubai in search of warmer climes.
Dubai is one of those must-see places. A hub for international travel and a magnet for sun-seekers and the well-heeled.
In parts the city seems to be the biggest building site in the world, with hotels, apartments, offices and shopping malls rising not just from the desert but from the sea on huge islands of reclaimed land. For winter sun at a steady 25C to 30C during the day with cloudless skies and warm seas it's the perfect place, just 7 1/2 hours from London.
Dubai likes to be the biggest and the best; a city of icons. And none more evident than in its latest show stopper the the Burj Dubai. Already the tallest man-made structure in the world at nearly 800m (2,700 feet), the tower will boast in excess of 160 floors. Locals say it's to rise to a kilometre tall, but the final number is not officially released yet.
Finding somewhere to stay can be a problem. Not because there's not a great choice - but because there is too many fantastic hotels to chose from. A new hotel opens almost every week, it seems.
If comfort, pampering and bags of luxury is your thing then try the 5-star Grosvenor House, at West Marina Beach. For tourists and business trips, it is one of the most established destinations in town, and one of the most luxurious.
Spread over 44 floors it offers some of the best dining and entertainment in town. The world-famous Buddha Bar night club is THE place to be seen in Dubai, while the Michelin-star Indego restaurant offers the finest modern Indian cuisine. The Ottoman restaurant mixes Turkish and Mediterranean influences and Rhodes Mezzanine brings classic British dishes by celebrity Michelin Star chef Gary Rhodes. Completing the choice is Sloanes restaurant, an international buffet to suite every taste.
The staff are attentive, yet not smothering, and you will quickly get used to not opening doors and pouring drinks. Nothing is too much trouble.
The Grosvenor's 227 rooms and suites are lavishly appointed and have the very latest technology including huge plasma screen TVs with a wide range of programmes in English, as well as games and email facilities. Panoramic views across the city from the large balcony, complete the experience.
Upgrade to a Club room and you get the services of a butler and access to the exclusive Grosvenor Lounge, with free refreshments including champagne and canapés, lobster and oysters before dinner. The lounge, on the 44th floor has stunning views along the adjacent Jumeirah Beach, the harbour and Marina and the amazing Palm Jumeirah, reclaimed from the sea and home to the newest 6-star wonder, the Atlantis Hotel.
While the hotel has its own rooftop pool, spa and gym, guests at the Grosvenor have access to the sports facilities, private beach and 14 restaurants of it's sister hotel, the equally well-appointed 5-star Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa. A free shuttle bus runs the three-minute ride between the two hotels. Drinks, food and spa treatments can be signed to your room, and with the clear blue 30C waters of the Arabian Gulf lapping at its white smooth sandy beach you'll never feel more relaxed. Roll on next year!
The iconic Burj Al Arab hotel is a short distance down the beach, and the Grosvenor House is close to main amenities such as the Mall of the Emirates, with it's amazing indoor ski slopes with real snow, Harvey Nichols and other high street names. Other attractions are the Dubai museum, and the famous Gold Souk, where you will be dazzled by the vast array of gold and jewels on offer - and be prepared to haggle for a real bargain. Or take a ride down the Creek on a traditional Dow, and see the workings of the old port.
by Mike Whiting
Mike travelled with the Arabian Tour Company, based in Pinner, Middlesex (www.arabiantourco.com), for a five night stay on a half board basis at the Grosvenor House Hotel via scheduled return flights with Emirates from Heathrow. He relaxed the night before his flights at the Park Inn Hotel, Heathrow with a hotel with parking parking package booked through Holiday Extras® (www.holidayextras.com).