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When To Go, Where To Stay And What To DoAugust 1, 2008 By: David Eisen Home-Based Travel Agent
When to Go
Just like the U.S., Dubai is hot during the months of May through September, although here, "hot" means above 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day. Therefore, the best time to visit Dubai is January through March and December when the climate is less oppressive (70s to 80s). On the other hand, better hotel deals exist during the warmer months.
Those wishing to go to Dubai may have lost one option: Silverjet, the all-business-class carrier, ceased operations in late May when it failed to secure funding. There is a chance of a relaunch, but until that happens, the best bet is Emirates Airlines (www.emirates.com). The airline flies to 99 destinations in 62 countries from its primary hub in Dubai and operates a full wide-body aircraft fleet from three aircraft families: the Boeing 777, the Airbus A330, the Airbus A340 and the Airbus A380. Among other things, Emirates is known for its first-class section, which gives passengers a full suite, complete with closing doors to ensure privacy, a mini-bar, a coat rack and ample storage. The seat converts into a 180-degree flat bed.
In North America, Emirates offers daily flights from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Toronto, along with flights from other U.S. and Canadian cities allowing for connections. Fares begin around $1,520.
Where to Stay
Jumeirah Hotel Group has some of the best lodging options in Dubai, primarily because their properties speak to all groups, from couples to families. In Dubai alone, Jumeirah operates five properties.
Burj Al Arab (www.burj-al-arab.com). This is Jumeirah's crown jewel, and perhaps Dubai's as well. The hotel, shaped like a sail, is the most prominent among Dubai tourism spots and doesn't disappoint on any level. It is 306 yards off Jumeirah beach's shoreline and is accessed via a long bridge, which gives it a sense of exclusivity. Upon entry, guests are treated to dates and Arabic coffee, which serves as a lovely prelude to the unrivaled architecture. Jumeirah calls the property five-star, but a German reporter dubbed it seven-star. We'd have to agree.
The hotel houses a total of 202 duplex suites, two of which, the Royal Suites, command a rack rate of $15,000 per night. A normal deluxe suite carries a charge of $2,300 per night. Rooms range from 1,830 square feet to 8,400 square feet. There are eight restaurants and lounges, including Al Muntaha—the Sky View Restaurant and Bar—on the 27th floor, which offers unparalleled views of Dubai and what it calls the most expensive drink in the world: The 27.321 is a concoction of 55-year-old Macallan single-malt Scotch, stirred with dried fruit bitters and served in a Baccarat 18-karat gold glass. It costs around $7,450. Other amenities at the hotel include butler service and a fleet of Rolls-Royces, which are available for guest transfers to the airport or around Dubai.
Travel agents can contact Marie-Laure Akdag, the director of business development, at [email protected].
Jumeirah Beach Hotel (www.jumeirahbeachhotel.com). For families, it doesn't get much better than the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, which boasts an expanse of swimming pools and beach area. The striking property is shaped like a breaking wave and consists of 617 sea-facing rooms, suites and villas, with each room offering about 540 square feet of space. Rack rates begin at around $800 for an Ocean Deluxe room.
The hotel is also adjacent to Wild Wadi Water Park (www.wildwadi.com), and guests of Jumeirah properties are given complimentary access. The 12-acre water park boasts 30 rides and attractions, which range from floating lazily down a river to riding down a fierce waterslide.
At mealtime, you can't go wrong with La Parrilla, one of more than 20 restaurants, cafés and bars at the property, which serves up Argentinian fare and entertains diners with tango dancing and native music.
Heather Galbraith is the property's associate director of sales, and can be reached at [email protected].
Madinat Jumeirah (www.madinatjumeirah.com). Madinat Jumeirah is strategically located between Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Burj Al Arab. Of the three, its architecture is the most Arabian in design and style. The property actually consists of three separate sections: two boutique hotels, Mina A' Salam and Al Qasr, which both offer 292 rooms and suites; and Dar Al Masyaf, clusters of 29 Arabic summer houses. Rates at Mina A' Salam and Al Qasr start around $815, while the 108 Arabian Summerhouse Deluxe rooms of Dar Al Masyaf run around $925 per night. The most exclusive villa, the Royal Malakiya Villa, costs $10,000 per night.
The neatest part about the resort is that everything is connected via waterways that are serviced by abras. The whole experience is very reminiscent of Venice. Madinat Jumeirah also has its own souk that offers about 75 different shops, and even has a Starbucks.
Agents with questions can contact Saskia Schuller, the resort's associate director of sales, at [email protected].
Things to Do
Visitors to Dubai should try to put the mass development behind and get out into the desert, at least for an afternoon. Lama Desert Tours (www.lamadeserttours.com) offers desert safari tours, where customers can do everything from riding camels to hopping into a 4x4 and traversing the hilly desert landscape. Another Dubai must is the Dubai Museum, housed within the restored Al Fahidi Fort that was erected around 1787. It is open daily and the price of admission is only three dirhams—less than $1. A history of Dubai's growth panels a wall of one exhibit, while kids and grownups alike will get a kick out of all the scimitars on display. There is also a gift shop onsite. —DE