Dubai is certainly a vibrant and exciting city, but it can also be a great place for a romantic weekend with your significant other. You might need to take a few of the realities of Dubai into account during the planning stages, though.
Dubai is new. So the ambience and atmosphere of the old world romantic getaway hotspots, like Paris, Rome and Venice just won’t transfer to this 21st century work in progress. As long as you can accept that and a couple of other small caveats, there’s no reason why the full starry night, rose petals in the bath, champagne in the ice-bucket deal can’t work here just as well as at the Gritti Palace, overlooking the Grand Canal.
Here’s a few ideas and locations to get the blood-pumping, but warning: none of them are exactly cheap, so be ready to be generous to yourself and your loved one.
On the Beach
Nothing quite beats the iconic Burj Al Arab. It’s the “cloth bell-pull, butler at your service sir, or madam” treatment from the moment you arrive.
Guests arriving at Dubai airport are whisked out to the Burj in one of the hotel’s fleet of white Rolls-Royces. If you are a Dubai resident, I’m sure the same would apply from your residence to the hotel, but a discreet phone-call to the hotel’s concierge might be a good idea to confirm this in advance. The web-link above will tell you all you need to know, but it might come as a surprise to learn that even here there are deals sometimes available: look here.
Also “on the beach”, right out at the tip of Dubai’s over the top Palm Jumeirah artificial appendage to the mainland, is the Hotel Atlantis. It has also become quite a recognised landmark for Dubai, but the good thing is that it is also considerably cheaper, while no less of an authentic five star experience. The price difference between two nights at the Burj and two nights at the Atlantis will buy an awful lot of add-ons and enhancements to make the romantic weekend getaway one for the memory books.
In the Desert
Fancy “sleeping in the desert, with a million stars all around”? Not long after the Burj Al Arab opened, the Jumeirah Hotels group proposed a similar top-of-the-line experience with a desert theme. The result was the wonderful Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa.
Nothing short of a full-on shamal or desert sandstorm will dent the wonder and beauty of this one, where all attention is paid to every detail. It is camping in the desert without the horrors and inconveniences of camping, and with a private pool. It is a unique experience. Be warned – this doesn’t come cheap, so expect a starting price on a par with the Burj Al Arab.
If Hotel Atlantis is the Burj Al Arab for people on more modest budgets, then out in the desert, the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa fills the same slot. Now don’t get me wrong. Bab Al Shams is a very credible alternative and like the Atlantis, leaves you with heaps of dosh for the add-ons and the extras. Lying back in one of the spas at the Bab will leave you and your partner with a peaceful, easy feeling, that’s for sure.
Out of Town
Yes, I admit it; I’m stretching it somewhat for these next two. You aren’t exactly in Dubai for either of them, but they are both only about 90 minutes from Dubai Mall.
In the northern Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is the newly developed coastal area of Al Hamra Village. One of the stars of this complex is the Banyan Tree Resort. It has been designed and built to have a very “Maldives” feeling to it – in fact, there is a Banyan Tree Resort in the Maldives also. But while it’s Maldivian cousin is a 20 minute boat ride from Male airport, from the RAK Banyan Tree, if you fancy being back on dry land, to do a spot of shopping in the Village, or play a round of golf on the course which is part of the Al Hamra complex, then it’s just a five minute leisurely boat ride back to the ‘mainland”.
Now, I know that shopping and golf are not very romantic: I just thought I had to mention this in passing in case you were worried about being marooned for two days in a 5 Star resort, surrounded by white sand and warm water. Cost is a little more than the Atlantis or Bab Al Shams, but not distressingly so. And you will have a private pool.
You might need your passports for this one – you’ll need them to check in anyway – because you are actually leaving the United Arab Emirates and crossing into the neighbouring country of the Sultanate of Oman.
Ten years ago, Zighi Beach, just a short boat-ride from the coastal settlements of Dibba was accessible by land only by a rather hair-raising road. Now renamed Zighy Bay and with a much more civilised road entry, the little bay is dominated by the very grand Six Senses Zighy Bay 5 Star resort. In many ways, it’s a mix of the beach and desert options I detailed in the first part of this article.
It’s right on the beach, but all the guests have their own separate chalets of varying sizes, each with its own freshwater pool, if you are concerned about the sea. A standard two-person chalet is priced in the middle of the range we’ve explored here, so not as expensive as the Burj Al Arab, but more than Atlantis, or the Banyan Tree.
Less Expensive but Romantic
There are plenty of very nice hotels in Dubai that you can use for your base that are a little more affordable leaving more cash to splash, The hotels in the Old Town or Downtown part of Dubai near Dubai Mall come into this category, but I have had a special soft spot for Dubai’s Park Hyatt for all of the ten years since it opened.
It’s a beautifully subtle and understated low rise design along the Deira side of Dubai’s Creek. It has three great in-house restaurants and from the Park Hyatt, you have easy access to the rest of central Dubai – the older, and maybe more interesting parts. And, although it is not on the beach, it has a great spa, a relaxing, elegant pool, and a view of the Dubai Creek jammed with yachts. So what about these extras activities to look back on!
Activities that Will Impress
These final ideas for your romantic weekend getaway will be the source of a lot of photographs and memories for years to come.
If your significant other is impressed by convertibles, splash out by hiring a BMW Z4, a Porsche or even a Ferrari. It is surprisingly affordable, and what could be more romantic and exhilarating than flashing along the broad roads of Dubai with the warm wind in your hair? All the major hotels valet park for free, so you could do an effortless tour of the most talked about hotels in style. The main roads are ideal for driving high-end cars, just watch out for speed limits.
Take a hot air balloon ride across the dunes. Balloon Adventures Dubai have been operating for a number of years now and can tailor an experience just for your and your significant other, if that is what you wish. Or, you can simply join an existing booking, provided there is space. Either will be something you’re unlikely to forget anytime soon.
While we are developing an aerial theme, consider a helicopter ride over Dubai.
Freshen up after your aerial experience back at the Park Hyatt, then head off to your booking for a romantic dinner for two at Atmosphere, the restaurant in the tallest building in the world. That’s right – you’re going to be on the 122nd floor of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. After your earlier experience, you should be well accustomed to heights. Just be sure to book well in advance for this one, because it is popular on account of its uniqueness.
Take account of what your significant other likes and pick and choose the activities to fit – just make them luxurious in Dubai.