Like many other cautious travelers, I was curious about visiting the Middle East. By and large, the way news outlets tend to position their stories, you’d think the entire region is misogynistic, stuck with a repressive mindset and on the brink of collapse. While some of those points are valid conclusions for some countries in the Middle East, those points not true when it comes to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Before I proceed, I am compelled to let you know – from firsthand experience – while the UAE is a very conservative country, it is arguably one of the most modern and progressive countries (comprising of 7 hereditary monarchy-states) in the Middle East. Women do indeed have the right to speak freely and be who they want to be without government interference or religious / cultural interference (the opposite of which occurs in neighboring countries). Women hold high-ranking positions in the UAE government and they are also executives. Additionally, women earn equal what men make in the UAE (something that the U.S. is still grappling with) and they are not required to wear the Hijab. The only exception happens to be for government employees where both men and women alike wear traditional cultural attire of the region…. I compare this to what is found in The Vatican: This is more of a ceremonial uniform.
The very cosmopolitan city/state of Dubai where I made my first visit to the Arab world. Getting there from Los Angeles isn’t a short trip so and my journey involved a nonstop Ultra Long-Haul flight on Dubai’s homegrown carrier, Emirates Airline you can read my outbound flight review
HERE and the video below:
Emirates is a premium airline which is a proper representation and amalgamation of the wealth and ethnic diversity that is found in Dubai: The Wealth – With some of the most advance aircraft and the most opulent surroundings and amenities for a premium airline, you can see that Emirates spares no expense. The Diversity – The majority of the people living and working in Dubai are from other countries. And as a result of its approach to “Human Resources,” Dubai has quickly become THE emerging crossroads of the world.
After enjoying a restful 16 hours at 35K feet, my flight arrived at the massive and richly adorned Dubai International Airport. After clearing customs, I departed the airport in one of Emirates’ Chauffeur Drive cars which transported me to the palatial Fairmont, The Palm resort which is located in the heart of the iconic Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest human-made island shaped in the form of a palm tree.
One thing that is mind-boggling about the Palm Jumeirah is the fact that this manufactured island was built entirely of sand and rock – plus, less than 20 years ago, its creatively-designed landmass didn’t exist beyond the minds of its creators. This avant-garde approach to construction is far from unusual for modern-day Dubai. Construction for high-rise, residential and resort communities is robust and outpacing that of any municipality at present – with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The resort offers a unique destination in the heart of this prestigious landmark – which is infused with Arabic design touches set against contemporary architecture. Fairmont The Palm is ideally located next to key leisure areas and business districts, major city landmarks and two ‘world firsts’: Burj Khalifa, the tallest free standing building and The Dubai Mall, the largest retail development. This ultra-luxe, private beach resort features 381 guestrooms and suites, including two presidential suites, outdoor leisure facilities with four swimming pools, a private beach club, and Fairmont Falcons Juniors’ Club (a children’s activity center) as well as a variety of dining facilities featuring sea, garden or pool views. Similar to other Fairmont properties, Fairmont The Palm offers Fairmont Gold rooms (a hotel within a hotel) and a Willow Stream Spa are featured here. I enjoyed a very wonderful stay a sumptuously appointed Deluxe King guest room with a balcony and view overlooking the resort’s pool and beachfront.
During my stay at Fairmont The Palm, I enjoyed a number of wonderful experiences which were memorable in every regard:
I was able to explore the secrets of healthy Arabic cuisine with Fairmont The Palm’s cooking school which is chaired by Rober Salloum who is the resorts’ Senior Arabic Chef. Chef Rober graciously walked me through the process to prepare quite a veritable feast which included spreads, salads as well as a fantastic fish entrée and a rose water-infused custard dessert – all prepared within an hour (…and I helped! ). What struck me the most about my experience cooking with Chef Rober was his ability to prepare one dish after another without breaking stride or losing focus. If there were an Olympics for cooking, I’m confident Chef Rober would take the gold!
When I stay at a resort, I always do my best to enjoy a unique spa treatment. One thing’s for sure, Fairmont the Palm’s, Willow Stream Spa didn’t disappoint…..and the results of the treatment lasted over 20 days! Firstly, the impressive 17,200 square-foot spa boasts 13 treatment rooms, including separate massage, facial and treatment rooms, a duet suite for a traditional Arabian rasul experience (which is a cleansing ritual that uses mineral-rich mud, heat and steam). The spa also offers a grand suite with two single suites connected by a large lounge. Additionally, the men’s spa is is designed for men to relax and recharge in a comfortable club style atmosphere. The male spa facilities also include a thermal suite with a large aroma steam and sauna, a cooling ice fountain, and several experience showers great for muscle relief.
My spa treatment was the 90-minute Willow Stream Desert-Sand Hammam. In this combination Vichy shower and hammam treatment, warm water is poured rhythmically over the body, releasing the day’s stresses. My hammam specialist applied a blend of Moroccan Argan oil with warm desert sand with relaxing strokes, sloughing off dead skin cells. He then used a Vichy rain shower to wash away impurities. A pampering massage followed, using khemoussa pouches and traditional oils.
Aptly described as a meat-atorium, Dubai’s authentic Brazilian Churrascaria experience Frevo slices up a pantheon of succulent meats, ranging from tri tip (bottom sirloin), top sirloin, rump, ribeye to flank, boneless short ribs and strip loin. With 18 cuts of meat prepared on skewers, carved and served straight at the table, it’s great that a large selection of vibrant and colourful salads is available to compliment all of the protein that’s offered at Frevo , Frevo also holds Dubai’s largest collection of cachaça (distilled beverage made of sugar cane) and South American cocktails, including the world renowned Caipirinha. Live music each night reflects the vibrant tempo of a Brazilian carnival.
2 words of advice…. If you plan to have a meal at Frevo, please do it on a day when you don’t plan to have a spa treatment such as the one I enjoyed. Here’s why: You’ll be too tired to enjoy the meal fully since the spa treatment will have you completely relaxed and sleepy. Also, the spa treatment will leave you so relaxed that you may leave personal items behind…..such as what I did. More on Fairmont The Palm reuniting me with my flip-flops in part 2.
My visit to Dubai has just begun and I’m looking forward to sharing more unique experiences from my visit. In the meantime, please review the “andiamo!” Destination Spotlight video below highlighting key aspects of my journey. Also, don’t forget to book your vacation to Dubai with
Orbitz and receive instant savings with their Orbitz Rewards program!