Travel Counsellors periodically hold internal sales based competitions where those of us who are located in England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, South Africa and Australia are put into teams that compete against each other. The theme of the competition that ended in January this year was “Soccer Worldcup” and was sponsored by Emirates.
My team happened to win and in May a group of 20 Travel Counsellors from the participating countries was off to Dubai!
The cab driver who brought me to the hotel for my first night (due to the different flight times from Australia I arrived one day ahead of the rest of the group) told me that ten years ago there was almost nothing in the place that Dubai takes up now. The developments over that past decade must have been amazing and nowadays you find countless skyscrapers in various stages of completion, only slightly slowed down during the world recession. The buildings are in all different shapes, with different exteriors, having pointy needles on the top or round cupolas, one even being twisted in itself!
We were staying at three hotels during our week in Dubai, these being the Atlantis on Palm Jumeirah with its huge water park and dolphin interaction (so fantastic, you have to do it!), the Meyden at the horse racing track (which officially opens later this year) and the One & Only Mirage, one of the well established lower buildings directly at the beach. Beside these hotels whose service we experienced firsthand, we had site inspections at several others. Service and hospitality were excellent throughout all of them.
As good as it was to have a look at all those hotels, our program included heaps of activities too:
Dubai Autodrome, where I had a lap in an Audi TT, quite an unnerving experience.
4WD Desert Safari (“Dune Bashing”) with Bedouin style dinner in the desert including belly dance afterwards.
Burj Khalifa, with around 160 levels the highest tower in the world with the observation deck on the 124th. Get an overview over Dubai, starting “At the Top”!
The area around Burj Khalifa actually being the place-to-be at the moment for evenings out with heaps of restaurants for all different budgets, the Mall of Dubai and the beautiful fountains.
Ski Dubai, what a different experience to be in this indoors ski dome with chairlift and everything! And it is incorporated in the Mall of the Emirates. I sat in a nice coffee shop outside and watched the people rugged up having fun in the snow! Quite unique!
Sailing trip on a big catamaran around Palm Jumeirah, a very leisurely and relaxing pastime including a dip into the very salty water, great! And the weather was just right for that too with 35-40 degrees dry heat……………….the one or other English colleague ended up sunburned on this occasion, since they are not as familiar with our Australian “slip-slop-slap” mentality!
All in all, Dubai is absolutely fascinating and definitely worth a visit, ideally a stopover on your way to Europe with Emirates, maybe for two or three days. The infrastructure between all the buildings (as in streets, footpaths, pedestrian areas with cafes etc) will catch up over the coming years, which will help rounding
up the picture of Dubai as a great destination.