Family fun in Dubai
Okay, so our desert city needs no introduction. But whether you live here or are just visiting, there’s nothing like a little hotel break and a few kiddo/mama/dad treats to making you feel like you’ve actually had a weekend. Check out Marissa’s suggestions for the perfect family itinerary.
Family Time: The Butterfly Garden
Children in our little corner of the world may be some of the best travelled, but are missing out on some of the basics we had in our childhood: the exposure to the breathtaking beauty of nature – other than our desert and sea that is. They get tiny snippets when they visit their parents’ home land or travel on holiday, but the little streams through green woods, the snowcapped mountains, and colourful flower fields are not something they get to enjoy every weekend or on a regular basis.
The latest craze in Dubai is exactly that: a total immersion in the magic world of nature and butterflies. The Dubai Butterfly Garden is green and lush, and populated with 15,000 butterflies imported from exotic places such as the Philippines, Costa Rica and Colombia. Thrill your kid by letting a butterfly land on their hair or their arms, and they will talk about it for weeks!
The Garden is tucked away in Dubailand, next to the Dubai Miracle Garden, and access is easiest through Umm Suqeim Road. Click here for more details on how to get there and read about our Sassy Mama Editor Kaya’s adventures at the butterfly garden here.
‘Me time’ for mummy
How often do you get to sit down, lie back and read a book? An absolutely compelling, non-baby related book? As much as I adore my children, I do miss the days where I would occasionally camp at a hotel lounge for the afternoon on a weekend with a beautiful book, the subtle fragrance of Earl Grey tea and the oh-so irresistible scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam (would you guess I am NOT British?!). Now, take that to one of the lounge terraces of the One&Only Royal Mirage – the opulent Samovar Lounge is ‘the place to be’ for this occasion -, add the views of the perfectly manicured gardens and water features that lead to the sea and voila: the perfect afternoon in your diary. Now you just need to send your sweet bundles of joy off to the KidsOnly Club at the resort (there is one in each wing!) and hubby off on an airplane to make sure you do not get any more interruptions on that book that has been sitting on your bedside table for months, just gathering dust. Even their menu describes the experience as we see it!
‘Me Time’ for the boys
So while you are busy relaxing and reading, you can also watch hubby, shrunk to the size of a speck of dust, drop from the skies. It goes like this: put on all the gear (harness and parachute), get onto plane, jump off the said plane and hopefully remember to pull the cord for the parachute to open! Just joking! The Team at Skydive Dubai are serious professionals and your big boy will get a full brief and if he is a first-timer, safety comes first, so he will be jumping in tandem with a tandem master – a fully qualified member of staff of SkyDive Dubai that will ensure all is conducted correctly to maximise the fun and avoid any risks. The package is including of a video with a cameraman that will follow hubby through the entire skydive journey to make sure everything is captured: from the toe tapping and nervous laugh inside the plane prior to jumping at 13,000 feet, to the silly ballooned-cheek grin skydivers get during those 30 seconds of free fall or ‘floating’, and also the (hopefully) not too clumsy landing. Now, if you think you will be jealous of the rush of adrenaline that free falling at 190km/hr can be and the amazing 360 degree views when the parachute opens, you can always ask hubby nicely if he will swap: you jump while he sips on tea. You never know – he might agree!
Where to Stay: One&Only Royal Mirage
This gorgeous resort has been, and still is, a firm favourite in Dubai. And it is no wonder: they know how to define luxury. Tranquility floats in its corridors, the exquisite interiors are fit for a Lawrence of Arabia movie, and its uber chic gardens, courtyards and pools ensure you switch off from the outside world. It makes the perfect backdrop for a lifestyle photo shoot too – it is not called the One&Only for nothing!
With 3 wings to choose from, it would be quite hard to recommended one or the other but do bear in mind that The Residence & Spa is designed for guests that looking for a relaxing environment, so The Palace or The Arabian Court will be more suitable for a stay with the family. The Palace has been established longer and has a slight modern twist to the décor, whilst The Arabian Court is a slightly smaller wing and the rooms are a tiny bit more traditional Arabian in style. But fear not, all the rooms, regardless of the wing you settle for, have a private terrace or balcony, and overlook the sea!
You could not stay here and not have a romantic dinner date with hubby. The ‘how-to-do-it-in-style’ guide says: start the evening in the elegant The Jetty Lounge for an aperitif of bubbles, then get onto one of the speedboat transfers (also known at the resort as ‘Sea Coach’ for the larger 22-seater, or ‘Sea Limousine’ for the 8-seater) that will take you from the One&Only Royal Mirage to the One&Only The Palm and hop over for a dinner at STAY. Both the food and service have impressed Yours Truly (not an easy task!). The speedboat leaves each of the properties every hour between 1pm and midnight – so easy!
One&Only Royal Mirage, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai www.oneandonlyresorts.com, (+971) (0)4 399 9999